Original Research - Special Collection: Ethics education and social justice

Mission studies at South African higher education institutions: An ethical and decolonial perspective in the quest to ‘colour’ the discipline

Eugene Baron
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5819 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5819 | © 2020 Eugene Baron | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 September 2019 | Published: 07 April 2020

About the author(s)

Eugene Baron, Department of Practical and Missional Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


The recent debate on decolonisation calls for all academic disciplines, including missiology modules, at public universities to reflect on its content, curriculum and pedagogies. However, the danger is always that to ‘de-…’ might lead to an exclusivist and essentialist pattern of a person or institution, and an act that does not take all epistemic communities seriously. The author argues in this article that such tendencies would not be conducive in South Africa, a country with a rich heritage of various cultures. Epistemologies at public universities should embrace all cultures in order to be relevant and transformative. The article oscillates between essentialism in social, racial identities and non-essentialism thereof – primarily contending for the inclusion and appreciation of all social and cultural identities in South African curriculum and content for higher education, in particular, the cultural tradition and heritage among the so-called ‘coloured’ communities. The article reassesses the contributions of theologians towards racial and ethnic identity. The author uses one particular ‘racial identity’ as a case study for racial essentialism and to argue for an inclusive approach in mission education. The article conclusively argues for the re-imagination and inclusion of ‘coloured’ as an African identity in the discipline of missiology.


Black; African; Essentialism; Multiculuralism; Mission


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