The Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri) is dedicated to facilitating the study of race thinking and changing identities so as to improve understanding of, and stimulate public dialogue about, the epistemological, moral, cultural and other bases for perceptions of human diversity and difference.
The Centre aims to use South Africa as a complex, multi-layered backdrop to study, and suggest practical solutions to local and global issues of race and identity. Its ultimate goal is to contribute towards social justice and tolerance of human difference, and to confirm and explore that which humans share, in this country and elsewhere.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s decision to establish the Centre takes its lead directly from the vision and ideals enshrined in the South African Constitution. The Founding Provisions in the first chapter of the Constitution commit the nation to ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms’ and to ‘non-racialism and non-sexism’.
The concept and content of racialism, or perhaps more appropriately ‘race thinking’, is infrequently and inconsistently investigated and discussed, particularly in South Africa, but with some notable exceptions. Debates on what might be possible towards the goal of non-racialism are even less frequent. In a society that continues to be beset by large-scale tension and incidents of conflict driven by racism, xenophobia, intolerance and bigotry, however, there is a clear need to stimulate the study of race thinking and its pervasive impact on the social world.
The new Centre is a response to this imperative. By leading a trans-disciplinary research agenda and building durable scholarly capacity, through facilitating collaborative and comparative, historically-located research, the Centre aims to inform public understanding, stimulate constructive dialogue, and guide policy formulation in relation to race thinking and changing identities in societies in transition.
The Centre was formally established in mid-2006 on the basis of an extensive prior planning and feasibility study supported by the Ford Foundation. The University has committed significant resources to ensuring its success, but further sponsorship is being sought from benefactors who are committed to the principles of a non-racial society and who may wish to invest in promoting an area of critical thought, public debate and policy advice that is sorely needed in South African and, indeed, global society.