SENIOR LECTURERDept. of Applied IT, Division of Cognition &
About Scott Burnett
Scott Burnett investigates the construction and repair of racial hierarchies privileging whiteness in spatial and environmentalist discourse, through a decolonial and post-Marxist lens. His work has been published in leading journals such as ACME: an International Journal for Critical Geographies, Discourse, Context & Media, and the African Journal of Employee Relations.
Most of my career so far has been in the social change sector in South Africa. For over a decade, I worked on various aspects of the youth leadership and lifestyle campaign loveLife, which at its peak was the world's largest HIV prevention programme for young people. Our approach was to combine a high powered multimedia campaign with on-going national brand activation and youth development in hundreds of communities and thousands of clinics and schools nationwide. While at loveLife I worked on programme design and management, campaign design and development, the monitoring and evaluation of communications programmes. My interest in race and racial structure arose from loveLife's structural critique of South African society: that problems such as HIV are enmeshed in a system of inequalities that demand deep social change in South Africa. I completed a Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008, and my doctorate at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018. I have a research affiliation at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Area of Research
I am interested in a wide variety of approaches to language, communication, and discourse; my ongoing preoccupation is the discourse-structure dialectic, and its implications for anti-racism and social change. Specific research interests that I am currently exploring include:
- Multimodal, mixed-methods analysis of how AltRight racial and masculinist discourse overlap in the 'manosphere' on Twitter, YouTube, and other digital platforms;
- The political ecology of private property in debates about sustainability and energy policy, including the ways in which white autochthony and colonial 'ethnoscapes' are discursively produced in in environmentalist discourses;
- Critical approaches to improving 'diversity literacy' in organisations.
I coordinate the Masters Course on Digital Communication and teach on a number of other courses, including Theories of Communication, and Rhetoric and Argumentation in a Digital Age.
Research projects and networks
- I recently completed a project as principal investigator on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom) funded Changing the Story programme with my co-investigator Dr Aylwyn Walsh at the University of Leeds. Our particular project amplifies the voices of young South Africans telling the stories of the central Karoo region of the country. Between 15 young adults from Graaff-Reinet were recruited into a “co-creator collective” (CCC). The CCC used video equipment and training provided by the project to source, film, edit, and analyse community stories about the land and its stewards in order to produce digital media, theatrical performance, and research outputs that form part of a new youth-led environmental justice activist programme under the aegis of the local #BanFracking campaign of the Support Centre for Land Change (SCLC) and in partnership with the existing youth group “Youth-in-Power” in Graaff-Reinet.
Queer counterpoints: Making ‘mistakes’ in loveLife’s ‘Make Your
BOOK REVIEW: Land Rights, Biodiversity Conservation and Justice: Rethinking People and
South African Journal of International Affairs - 2019-01-01
Constructing white autochthony in South Africa’s “soul country”: Intersections of race and
Discourse, Context & Media - 2019-01-01
Giving back the land: whiteness and belonging in contemporary South
Mapping capacity to deal with difference : towards a diagnostic tool for critical diversity
Melissa E. Steyn, Scott Burnett, Nceba Ndzwayiba
African Journal of Employee Relations - 2018-01-01
Fatal masculinities: A queer look at green
Unemployed youth: ‘time bombs’ or engines for
African Security Review - 2014-01-01