Letter from South African Academics

Dear all

a letter sent by African Academics….

The Vice Chancellor
Manchester Metropolitan University
United Kingdom
cc Prof. C. Horrocks

Suspension of Professor Ian Parker

Dear Professor Brooks

We are writing as a collective of African Academics to express our shock and concern regarding the suspension of Professor Ian Parker. As you know Professor Parker has been charged with misconduct after expressing concerns about issues of secrecy and control in the department of psychology at MMU.

Ian Parker is a renowned scholar who has made a significant contribution to rigorously extending the theoretical terrain of psychology, the social sciences and cultural studies, raising the international profile of Manchester Metropolitan University in these fields. His work is very widely read and has had far-reaching effects on theory, empirical research and teaching in many parts of the world, including our own.

Furthermore, Professor Parker has been a leading and inspirational scholar for those of us concerned with making psychology a more equitable, non-discriminatory discipline. For many years now we have relied on his extensive publications for our teaching and research. He has been one of the few European scholars that has worked in the African context with an attitude of mutual learning and support for social justice. Over the years many of us have also come to know Professor Parker’s students which have come from all across the world to study with him. He is one of the most committed and generous supervisors we know.

Many of us are South African academics and, given our apartheid history, are only too familiar with working in a climate where critical debate and questioning were stifled and suffered the consequent isolation from the international academic community. In our context, we are very aware that academic freedom is a hard-won right to be fiercely defended and it is imperative that universities maintain this space for creative, innovative, critical thought. The kinds of actions taken against Professor Parker severely damage MMU’s international image, creating an impression of an institution that discourages democracy, debate and critique.

In short it is the work of scholars such as Professor Parker that has given MMU an international reputation as a productive and intellectually exciting place. To continue with the actions against Professor Parker would result in a great loss for MMU, create the impression that it is an institution that undervalues intellectual work, censors critique and closes down dialogue.

We do hope you will consider the demands of students and the academic community and allow Professor Parker to return to work.


Professor Ingrid Palmary, Associate Professor, African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits
Professor Jill Bradbury, Assistant Dean Teaching & Learning, Humanities, Wits
Professor Brendon Barnes, Associate Professor, human & Community development, Wits
Desmond Painter, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University
Peace Kiguwa, Lecturer, University fo the Witwatersrand
Professor Leslie Swartz, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University
Professor Kevin Durrheim, Department of Psychology, Universdity of Kwa Zulu Natal
Dr. Kevin Whitehead, Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Wits
Prof. Gillian Eagle, Professor of Psychology, Wits
Prof. Garth Stevens (Co-Assistant Dean: Humanities Graduate Studies), Associate Professor/Clinical psychologist, Wits
Joseph Seabi, Lecturer, Chair of Transformation of the School of Human and Community Development, Wits
Prof. Brett Bowman, Associate Professor, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand
Dr Pravani Naidoo, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of the Free State
Grahame Hayes – retired; honorary associate, UKZN.
Prof. Dr. Anette Horn, Professor of German, Wits
Dr Anthony Collins, Psychology, UKZN
Natalie Donaldson, Lecturer, Psychology, Rhodes University.
Professor Shireen Hassim, Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand
Mr Werner Bohmke, Lecturer & Honours Coordinator, Psychology, Rhodes University
Ms SB van Wyk, Lecturer, Psychology Department, Stellenbosch University.