Original Research

Genopolitics: The dormant niche in political science curriculum in South African universities

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Kehdinga G. Fomunyam
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 1 | a470 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i1.470 | © 2018 Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Kehdinga G. Fomunyam | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2017 | Published: 26 June 2018

About the author(s)

Mlamuli N. Hlatshwayo, Discipline of Curriculum and Education Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Kehdinga G. Fomunyam, International Centre for Nonviolence, Durban University of Technology, South Africa


South African higher education institutions have been grappling with the challenges of transformation and decolonisation as a result of the 2015–2016 student protests calling into focus issue of access (both formal and epistemological), belonging, social justice, transformation and others. One of the key sites for this struggle for transformation has been curriculum and the notion of relevance in responding to the development of social reality. Political Science as a discipline has increasingly been confronted with an ‘existential crisis’ with scholars in the field asking critical questions on whether the discipline has reached a point of irrelevance to social reality. Three key critiques of political science as a discipline are discussed in this article – firstly, the critique that political science is obsessed with what has been termed ‘methodological fetishism’ in being unable to embrace new knowledge. Secondly, that political science tends to construct universal theories and concepts that assume global homogeneity and de-emphasise the importance of context and locality in knowledge, knowledge production and its experiences. Thirdly, and the central point of this article, the social disconnection between political science as a field and its [in]ability to make a socio-economic contribution to society. This article suggests that genopolitics allows us to critically reflect on and respond to the above notions of relevance in political science by looking at the role of genes played in political behaviour and genetic dispositions to see and analyses how people, communities and societies behave in the ways that illuminate our understanding of social reality.


genopolitics; political science; political behaviour; South African higher education; relevance


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