Shirley Brooks

Shirley Brooks hails from Durban and attended university in Pietermaritzburg, where she grew to political consciousness during the late apartheid period. After leaving the country to study at Queen’s University in Canada, she returned to South Africa in the early 1990s just prior to the first democratic elections, and now has over twenty years’ experience teaching and researching in South African universities. A social and historical geographer by training, her career has taken her to very different spaces across the country. She is no stranger to turmoil in the higher education sector. As a lecturer at the University of Natal, she experienced institutional upheaval and conflict during the time of the university mergers (the University of Natal was merged with the University of Durban-Westville to form the University of KwaZulu-Natal). Moving from Durban to the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein during the time of Professor Jonathan Jansen’s tenure there, she participated in the transformation of that campus in the wake of the shocking Reitz incident. Currently she is an Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape. It is from this vantage point, that of a historically black university (HBU) located on the Cape flats, that she has experienced the collective social trauma of #FeesMustFall. A firm believer in the power of education to change lives, Shirley’s interest in questions of social justice extends to her students’ own life contexts and she is deeply committed to building the next generation of empowered young South Africans.

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