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Prof Nadine Bowers Du Toit
August 3, 2023 @ 17:3018:30Faculty of Theology
“Storying” our past/Claiming our future: Theology and Development’s coming of age in South Africa
The field of “Theology and Development” commemorates 25 years this year of its establishment both at Stellenbosch University and in South Africa. It was established in the rainbow nation years of our fledgling democracy and as the field comes into its young adulthood, it behoves us to reflect not only on its legacy, but also on its place and positioning in the current South African context. Its establishment as a new scholarly field in 1998 by the first person of colour appointed to teach theology at Stellenbosch University sought to produce scholarship that challenged the status quo and trained faith-based practitioners with regard to their role in an inequal and impoverished society. It broke new ground and, in many ways, challenged Western theological normativities. This lecture, in the framework of decolonial storytelling or in the words of Day, ‘testifying’, which itself seeks to challenge normativities, seeks to construct meaning from the often-untold narratives emerging from this field, its scholars and its practitioners both in the past and in the present, so as to ‘read the signs of the times’ as we navigate the future.
Nadine Bowers Du Toit is a professor in Theology and Development in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. Before her appointment at the Faculty in 2013, she served as the acting dean, head of department of Community Development and director of Student Affairs, respectively, at Cornerstone Institute (then Cornerstone Christian College). As the child of Pentecostal clergy, who were actively involved in the community, her DTh in Practical Theology (2005) focused on the role of the local church as an agent of change in addressing poverty. Her research over the past 20 years has therefore largely focused on the role of faith communities in addressing the intersecting issues of poverty, inequality, race and gender. Her most recent projects, which investigated the role of faith identity of Faith Based Organisations (FBO) and the issue of young adults, race, faith and inequality, have been funded by grants from the National Research Foundation and the Nagel Centre for World Christianity. Professor Bowers Du Toit recently edited a book titled Faith, race and inequality among young adults in South Africa: Contested and contesting discourses for a better future (Sun Media, 2022) and has supervised a combined 25 PhD and master’s students to completion. Besides lecturing, publishing and supervising postgraduate students, she is often invited to address congregations, church leaders and Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) on topics pertaining to community development and social justice. She sees herself as an activist academic, always seeking to push for space for more voices to be heard. She served as the chair of the Transformation Committee in the Faculty of Theology for a number of years. Professor Bowers Du Toit is the director of the Unit for Religion and Development Research and serves on the boards of several Non-Governmental Organisations, including The Warehouse, Mfesane and the Alliance for Inclusive Development. She previously served as the chairperson of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa and is the current president of the International Academy of Practical Theology.