“Making the Invisible Visible”: Study Visit in South Africa

Posted on May 10, 2017

As one of the milestones of the current GELP Project (Global Education Learning Platform), a Study Visit on the theme of “Global Citizenship” took place in Cape Town between the 2nd and the 9th of April, 2017. Under the title “Making the Invisible Visible – Critical Perspectives on Global Citizenship from the Global South”, the Study Visit was organized by the Global Citizenship Programme of the University of Cape Town (UCT). It offered 20 participants from different countries and backgrounds the chance to engage in diverse meanings and backgrounds of global citizenship, both in general and against the backdrop of the very location of the Study Visit – the city of Cape Town.

The group started reflecting on invisibilities and visibilities right after the beginning of the Study Visit. On the first day, participants took a self-organized walk to explore the surroundings of the venue, looking for what might be invisibilised in the city and questioning the processes of making people, things or issues visible or invisible. Over the course of the week, participants worked with the concept of “invisibility” – they challenged it, related to it, adapted it to their contexts or declined it for other, more preferable concepts, looking for a common language to talk about global and local power relations and own entanglements within them.

They dealt with obstacles to social justice, built a metaphorical wall with problematic issues as “bricks” to stand for all those structures and processes that inhibit change, and later engaged with their own responsibility towards deconstructing them. The group had the chance to visit the District Six museum, a space that commemorates 60.000 inhabitants of the so-called District Six that were forcibly evicted during Apartheid in the 1970s. Furthermore, several local NGOs presented the educational and advocacy work they do with marginalized communities within the city.

Later, the group learned about and reflected on issues such as marginalization, language, racism, and identity, and kept on discussing inner and outer processes and dynamics.

The Study Visit took place at the Scalabrini Centre in central Cape Town, a community center that includes a guest house, where the participants were accommodated. The Scalabrini Centre, founded in 2005, is an NGO emanating from the Scalabrini order and works with displaced communities in Cape Town. The organization provides educational, legal, and counselling services to migrants and refugees and offered the participants of the Study Visit insights into its important work.

The Study Visit was followed by a so-called “Multiplier Event”, where around 20 students of UCT joined the participants in their learning journey. In the course of two more days, the group broadened the focus of the discussions and thought about ways of transforming theory and debates into practice. The closure of the Multipliers’ Event marked the closure of the Study Visit as a whole, after an intense week of learning, sharing and growing.

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