61. Failure

As humans, we often want to take charge of situations, highlighting our competence and ensuring our actions are in alignment with our goals. In these laudable quests, we are often confronted with challenging moments of failure. In this episode, we explore the unsettling and often painful experience of not living up to our or others notions of success. We consider why we seem to take guilty pleasure in the misanthropic game of schadenfreude, ask when is failure an option as we reflect on enabling conditions for failure to not be debilitating.

We mine the affective cartographies of failure and pivots with Advocate Thato Toeba, asking what failure means when you are already presumed to be successful? We reflect on who gets to fail with astrophysicist, Dr Sthabile Kolwa. Unpacking the enabling conditions for risk and failure, we take a hard look at representation and narratives of success with media studies lecturer, Dr Dee Marco. Come with us.

Advocate Thato Toeba is an advocate of the High Court of Lesotho. She is also a legal researcher and collage artist whose research and artistic practice explores the intertwined yet contencious relationship between knowledge production and the acceptance of ‘truth’. She is currently completing an LLD in international criminal law with the University of the Western Cape.

Dr Sthabile Kolwa is an astrophysicist whose research interest is on high redshift galaxy evolution, the structure and origin of the circumgalactic medium in galaxies, the characterisation of bias in radio continuum surveys and radio source classification. They are a lecturer at the Physics Department of the University of Johannesburg and a postdoctoral researcher at IDIA, Cape Town.

Dr Dee Marco is a media studies lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research is concerned with race, gender, identity formation and the complexities of identities. She explores these concepts through popular culture, visual arts, film and cinematic studies.

The Academic Citizen (Season 6) is produced and funded by the South African Research Chair in Science Communication, hosted at Stellenbosch University. We welcome your feedback, guest and theme suggestions. Email us at theacademiccitizen@gmail.com or on our WhatsApp line at +27 76 608 3177.

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