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Charles Villet

Lecturer and Head: Philosophy

Email: charles.villet@monash.edu

Tel: +27 11 950 4073

Academia page: http://msalib.academia.edu/CharlesVillet

Qualifications
  • B.A. (Humanities), Rand Afrikaans University, 2001.
  • B.A. Honours in Philosophy (cum laude), Rand Afrikaans University, 2002
  • M.A. in Philosophy, University of Johannesburg, 2006.
  • Doctoral Candidate: Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Teaching Commitments
  • Introduction to Philosophy: Moral Dilemmas and Philosophy (AZA1371)
  • Ethics and Bio-Technology (AZA1264)
  • Ethics and the Modern World (AZA2939)
  • Environmentalism (AZA2/3871)
  • Honours Coordinator (School of Social Science)
Achievements
  • Purple Awards for Outstanding Teaching: AZA1371 & AZA1264 in 2014.
  • Organisation of the Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Philosophy Association of Southern Africa (PPA), held at Monash South Africa in 2013.
  • Dean’s Commendation for Sessional Lecturer (Monash University, 2011)
  • Organisation of the Conference on Philosophy / African Philosophy and the Future of Africa, held at St Augustine College, Johannesburg in 2007.
Research Interests

My project deals with the politics of recognition in South Africa, focusing on the role played by economic conditions (wealth and poverty) in racial identity beyond Apartheid. The main thesis is that South Africa is a heterotopia for rich and poor: Economic affluence is becoming the dominant form of recognition, resulting especially in misrecognition of the poor.

The study takes its cue from Frantz Fanon’s reinterpretation of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic within the colonial context: The insight is that the dialectic was re-inscribed along racial lines with a white master (colonist) and black slave (native). Recognition for the black slave is only possible through violence because s/he is rendered invisible by whiteness as the measure of humanity, which itself is rendered invisible to whites due to the privileges it affords them.

This invisibility of whiteness develops further beyond Apartheid and flows into the invisibility of richness (affluence), which renders the poor invisible. Affluence is a new form of mastery within this context and the invisibility of the poor is a form of economic misrecognition. The structures which privileged whites during Apartheid is in the process of becoming structures which privilege the rich, both white and black (which implies though that almost all whites are still privileged whilst the poor are almost exclusively black). This new form of economic mastery is explored through two heterotopian case studies in Pretoria and Johannesburg:

Contemporary economic mastery finds cultural expression, among other ways, in what can be called the rugbymentality of many Afrikaners (which is a form of self-recognition). This represents the reaction of the former political masters to their political disenfranchisement, which has led them to successfully pursue economic affluence as compensation. This affluence is expressed through rugby, which is largely an economic and consumerist phenomenon disguised as culture. Rugby (personified by the metaphor of Loftus, the rugby stadium in Pretoria) is a (Foucaultian) heterotopia for Afrikaners, a way of either insulating themselves from their loss of political power, or an attempt to be mutually recognised by others through excellence in the sport.

The heterotopia brings across the idea of different realities existing alongside each other, which is applied to the post-Apartheid context by way of a phenomenology of the urban context of Johannesburg. This demonstrates the main thesis that South Africa as such is a heterotopia: The massive divide between rich and poor leads economic classes to have fundamentally different experiences to such an extent that one could say that they live in two different countries. This divide is a complex extension of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, which is expressed through economic misrecognition of the poor.

The culmination of the thesis considers Axel Honneth’s influential theory of mutual recognition in light of the realities of poverty and violence within this heterotopia. The work of Fanon (on violence) and Nancy Fraser (on redistribution) is merged with Honneth’s theory to imagine a postcolonial theory which is better suited for understanding how mutual recognition (love, rights and solidarity) is problematized within South Africa beyond Apartheid.

Primary areas of interest:

  • Social Philosophy (Hegel, Fanon and modern theories of power)
  • Politics of Recognition (Fraser, Honneth, Ricoeur and Taylor)
  • Postcolonialism
  • Whiteness Studies
  • Heterotopian Studies

General areas of interest:

  • Continental Philosophy (Existentialism, Nihilism, Phenomenology)
  • Environmentalism
  • Modern Ethics (Enlightenment onwards)
  • Philosophy of Sport
  • Political Philosophy (focus on modern theories of power)
  • Postmodernism
  • Works of Foucault, Kant and Nietzsche
Books and Chapters in Books
  • Villet C. 2011. “Fanon and Recognition in the Colonial Context”, in: African Philosophy and the Future of Africa (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change: Series II, Africa, Volume 14). Edited by G. Walmsley. Washington D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (ISBN-10: 1565182707 / 13: 978-1565182707).
  • Villet C. 2009. Towards Ethical Nihilism: The Possibility of Nietzschean Hope. Saarbrücken: Verlag Dr. Müller (ISBN-10: 3639189183 / 13: 978-3639189186). Available online:https://www.academia.edu/222761/Towards_Ethical_Nihilism_The_Possibility_of_Nietzschean_Hope
Peer-reviewed Articles
Book Reviews
  • Jordaan, A. 2013. Lothar Neethling – ‘n lewe vertel (Lothar Neethling – A Life Told). Hatfield, Pretoria: Litera Publishers (ISBN: 978-1-920188-45-0).
    Reviewed in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde (Magazine for Literature). 51 (1): 185-186 (2014).
    Available online: http://www.letterkunde.up.ac.za/resensies/51_1_eng.htm.
  • Papenfus, T. 2011. Pik Botha en sy Tyd (Pik Botha and his Time). Hatfield, Pretoria: Litera Publishers (ISBN: 978-1920188337).
    Reviewed in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde (Magazine for Literature), 49 (2): 187-188 (2012).
    Available online: http://www.letterkunde.up.ac.za/resensies/49_2_eng.html.
  • O’Hara, D.T. 2009. The Art of Reading as a Way of Life: On Nietzsche’s Truth. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press (ISBN: 978-0810126220).
    Reviewed in Foucault Studies (Online), 9 (September, 2010).
    Available online:  http://rauli.cbs.dk/index.php/foucault-studies/issue/view/398/showToc.
Online Articles
  • Villet, C. 2014. “Mandela and Fanon in Algeria: The necessity and limits of violence”, YPIA website (Young People in International Affairs), 13 January.
  • Villet, C. 2013. “The Cape Crusaders and the question on South African Identity, YPIA website (Young People in International Affairs), 8 July.
  • Villet, C. 2011. “The Importance of Having A Voice”, Mail & Guardian Online (Debate on Whiteness Series), 4 November.
    Available online: http://mg.co.za/article/2011-11-02-the-importance-of-having-a-voice.
National Conference Presentations
  • Heterotopia and in/visibility: A phenomenology of rich and poor in South Africa,
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth (13 January, 2015).
  • Loftus as Afrikaner heterotopia: The life-world of rugbymentality,
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Society for Cultural History (ISCH),
    Monash South Africa, Roodepoort (24 November, 2015).
  • Rich Master and Poor Slave: An auto-ethnography of the South African heterotopia
    Proceedings of the Annual Spring Colloquium of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of the Western Cape, Durbanville (28 September, 2014).
  • The Post-Apartheid Dilemma: Recognition, Violence and Economic Redistribution
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA)
    ,
    University of the Free State, Bloemfontein (22 January, 2014).
  • Post-Apartheid South Africa as Heterotopia: The Dialectic between Rich and Poor
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophy Postgraduate Association of South Africa (PPA),
    Monash South Africa, Roodepoort (6 April, 2013).
  • Loftus as Afrikaner heterotopia: The experience of rugbymentality
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of KwaZulu-Natal, Salt Rock (14 January, 2013).
  • Post-Apartheid South Africa as Heterotopia: The Dialectic between Rich and Poor
    Symposium on Consumer Cultures, Media and Landscapes in South Africa: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives,
    Critical Research in Consumer Culture Network (CRiCC), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (9 November, 2012).
  • The Invisibility of Richness: A Critique of Vice’s “Strange Place”
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophy Postgraduate Association of South Africa (PPA),
    University of Pretoria (31 March, 2012).
  • How we live in this strange place: Post-apartheid South Africa as heterotopia
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of Cape Town (18 January, 2012).
  • Loftus as Afrikaner heterotopia: The experience of rugbymentality
    “Vryheidspark and other governmonumentalities” Walkshop,
    University of South Africa, Pretoria (7 September 2011).
  • The genealogy of misrecognition from Hegel to Fanon
    World Philosophy Day 2010 Postgraduate Conference,
    University of Johannesburg (18 November, 2010).
  • Ethics on holiday: The route of ethical nihilism
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    Monash South Africa, Roodepoort (22 January, 2010).
  • The (post)colony as heterotopia
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of Fort Hare, Hogsback (20 January, 2009).
  • Humanity as the pivot of ethics
    Proceedings of the Annual Spring Colloquium of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    Rhodes University, Grahamstown (5 – 7 September, 2008).
  • How does morality become a sickness / addiction?
    Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Philosophy Association of Southern Africa (PPA),
    University of Johannesburg (27 March, 2008).
  • Hegel and Fanon towards mutual recognition
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of Pretoria (16 January, 2008).
  • Fanon and recognition in the colonial context
    Proceedings of the Conference on Philosophy / African Philosophy and the Future of Africa,
    St Augustine College, Johannesburg (24 October, 2007).
  • Foucaultian [e]nligtenment: self-critique and the “death of man”
    Proceedings of the Second Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Philosophy Association of Southern Africa (PPA),
    North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus (2 April, 2007).
  • Foucaultian [e]nligtenment: self-critique and the “death of man”
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA),
    University of Stellenbosch (17 – 19 January, 2007).
  • Why is ethics necessary?
    Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa
    (PSSA),
    Rhodes University, Grahamstown (16 – 18 January, 2006).
  • Nihilism and the Other
    Nietzsche, Culture and Society,
    Rhodes University, Grahamstown (13 – 14 January, 2006).
  • How can we stop ethics from going on holiday?
    Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference of the Ethics Society of South Africa (ESSA),
    Fern Hill Hotel, Howick (13 – 14 July, 2005).
Contributions at Colloquia and Seminars
  • The Post-Apartheid Dilemma: Recognition, Violence and Economic Redistribution
    Colloquium, School of Philosophy, North West University, Potchefstroom (30 May, 2014).
  • Loftus as Afrikaner heterotopia: The life world of rugbymentality
    Research Seminar, School of Social Science, Monash South Africa, Roodepoort (29 August, 2012)
  • Loftus as Afrikaner heterotopia: The life world of rugbymentality
    Research Seminar, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria (5 April, 2012).
  • The invisibility of richness: A critique of Vice’s “strange place”
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (29 February, 2012).
  • How we live in this strange place: Post-apartheid South Africa as heterotopia
    Research Seminar, School of Arts, Monash South Africa, Roodepoort (1 September, 2011).
  • Ethics on holiday: The modern path of ethical nihilism
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (29 July, 2010).
  • The (post)colony as heterotopia
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (12 August, 2009).
  • The (post)colony as heterotopia
    Research Seminar, Department of Philosophy, University of South Africa, Pretoria (24 June, 2009).
  • Hegel and Fanon towards mutual recognition
    Research Seminar, Department of Philosophy, University of South Africa, Pretoria (7 May, 2008).
  • Fanon and recognition in the colonial context
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (23 April, 2008).
  • Hoekom is etiek nodig? (Why is ethics necessary?)
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg (19 October, 2005).
  • Hoe kan ons keer dat etiek op vakansie gaan? (How can we stop ethics from going on holiday?)
    Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg. (26 October, 2004).
Academic Membership
  • Centre for Phenomenology in South Africa (CPSA)
  • Critical Research in Consumer Culture Network (CRiCC)
  • The Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA)
  • The Postgraduate Philosophy Association of South Africa (PPA)
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