Transactional ethics and ‘damage-centred’ research: Of banality and oblivion
Keywords:Ethics, Banality, Damage-centered research, Oblivion
The recent article by Nieuwoudt, Dickie, Coetsee, Engelbrecht and Terblanche (2019) entitled “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women” published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, attracted considerable negative attention, leading to its official withdrawal from circulation. While it may be argued that this unfortunate piece of “scholarship” had “slipped through the cracks”, there is certainly a need for a more nuanced analysis of what constitutes ethical social research practice. In this article, the issue of intentionality and (un)witting Othering is contemplated by invoking Tuck’s notion of “damage-centred” research, an approach that continues to frame contemporary investigations in the name of social justice. It is argued that there is a need to reconsider the practice of transactional ethics. Arendt’s concept of the banality (of evil) has resonance, as it speaks to the notion of “blissful oblivion of complicity”, even in the context of a widespread contemporary discourse of social transformation and decolonisation in South African higher education.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Suriamurthee Moonsamy Maistry
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