Caroline Kerfoot. Foto: Ingmarie Andersson
Caroline Kerfoot. Foto: Ingmarie Andersson

This project is concerned with the role of language in epistemic justice, defined as an ethical project of reversing epistemic exclusions, mitigating epistemic harm, and seeking parity of epistemic authority for historically marginalized speakers and knowers. It suggests that postcolonial contexts such as South Africa, in which multilingualism is seen as the norm rather than an anomaly, can point the way to constructing more egalitarian and ethical conditions for learning.

Critical socio- and applied linguistics, education, and sociology

This research lies at the intersection of critical socio- and applied linguistics, education, and sociology. It investigates the ways in which Grade 4–6 students in two peri-urban Cape-Town primary schools use their multilingual resources to negotiate social and academic identities. It analyses how hierarchies of value including language, ‘race’, ethnicity, and nationality are reworked as new forms of postcolonial conviviality emerged. It explores, simultaneously, how learners use multilingualism as an epistemic resource, enhancing access to knowledge for others, thus demonstrating a decolonial ethics of knowing.

To enrich the sociological imagination

The project overall aims to illuminate the potential of more heteroglossic and less stratified sites to enrich the sociological imagination and to offer insights about possibilities for change. It points to invisibilized processes of cultural and educational production which could lay the basis for creating new conditions of epistemic justice and a decolonial ethics of care.


STIAS provides and maintains an independent ‘creative space for the mind’ to advance the cause of science and scholarship across all disciplines. It is global in its reach and local in its African roots, and values original thinking and innovation in this context. No restriction is placed on the country of origin, discipline, or academic affiliation when STIAS considers a fellowship invitation.

It encourages the cross-pollination of ideas across cultures, academic or otherwise, and hence gives preference to projects that will tap into, and benefit from, a multi-disciplinary discourse while also contributing unique perspectives to such a discourse. This interaction is fostered by inviting individual fellows or project teams where each team member is evaluated individually.

From The STIAS Fellowship.