Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-fv4mn Total loading time: 0.717 Render date: 2022-06-27T11:19:25.155Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Chapter 15 - Towards an Emergent Theory of Fallism (and the Fall of the White-Liberal-University in South Africa)

from Part III - Confronting Marginalisation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2020

Jacqueline Bhabha
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Wenona Giles
York University, Toronto
Faraaz Mahomed
FXB Center for Health and Human Rights
Get access


When a Black student threw faeces against a bronze statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, located at the University of Cape Town (UCT), it sparked the formation of the #RhodesMustFall (#RMF) student movement in March 2015. The Black-led #RMF movement sought to decolonise the university by delinking from UCT’s dominant model of Euro-American knowledge to construct their own decolonial framework comprised of Pan-Africanism, Black Consciousness and Black radical feminism. A few weeks later in May 2015, students at the University of Oxford who were inspired by the student movement at UCT created the #RhodesMustFall Oxford movement, using the Rhodes statue at Oriel College as a focal point in their call to decolonise the university. This chapter explores the formation of the #RMF student movements at UCT and Oxford – referred to as the Fallist movements. I first consider what led the #RMF UCT movement to adopt a decolonial framework and then examine how #RMF’s framework generated the idea of ‘Fallism’. Finally, I experiment with developing Fallism into an emergent decolonial theory to unveil the paradoxical epistemic architecture of the white-liberal-university.

A Better Future
The Role of Higher Education for Displaced and Marginalised People
, pp. 339 - 362
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Biko, S. (1978). I Write What I Like. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Biko, S. (2017). I Write What I Like. Cape Town: Pan Macmillan South Africa.Google Scholar
Bofelo, Mphutlane wa. (2017). Fallism and the dialectics of spontaneity and organization disrupting tradition to reconstruct tradition. Joburg Post 4 August 2017. Scholar
Burdick, J., Sandlin, J., & O’Malley, M. (2014). Problematizing Public Pedagogy. Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
Chikane, Rekgotsofetse. (2018). Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation: The Politics Behind #MustFall Movements (Kindle Edition). Johannesburg: Picador Africa.Google Scholar
Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. (2011). Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America Is Evolving toward Africa. New York: Paradigm.Google Scholar
Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 12411299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davis, Rebecca. (2013). The man behind Cape Town’s poo protests: But who does Andile Lili represent? The Daily Maverick (4 December 2013).Google Scholar
Fanon, Frantz. (2004). The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
Gebrial, Dalia. (2018). Rhodes Must Fall: Oxford and Movements for Change. In Bhambra, Gurminder K., Gebrial, Dalia, & Nişancıoğlu, Kerem (eds.), Decolonising the University (pp. 1936). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
Gibson, Nigel C. (2016). The Specter of Fanon: The Student Movements and the Rationality of Revolt in South Africa. Social Identities 23(1), 121.Google Scholar
Godsell, Gillian & Chikane, Rekgotsofetse. (2016). The Roots of the Revolution. In Booysen, Susan (ed.) Fees Must Fall (pp. 5473). Johannesburg: Wits University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gordon, L. R. (2015). What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
Healy-Clancy, Meghan. (2016). The Everyday Politics of Being a Student in South Africa. African Studies Association Annual Meeting Paper. Scholar
Hodes, Rebecca. (2015). How Rhodes Must Fall Squandered Public Sympathy. The Daily Maverick (20 August 2015).Google Scholar
Infecting the City (n.d.). Home. 5 May 2019.Google Scholar
Jansen, J. (2017). As by Fire: The End of the South African University. Tafelberg: Cape Town.Google Scholar
Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (2015). The Johannesburg Salon, Volume 9. Retrieved 5 May 2019.Google Scholar
Kamanzi, Brian. (2016). ShackvilleTRC: An opportunity to turn the page. The Daily Maverick 8 June 2016. Scholar
Luescher, T. M. (2016). Student Representation in a Context of Democratisation and Massification in Africa: Analytical Approaches, Theoretical Perspectives and #RhodesMustFall. In Luescher, T. M., Klemenčič, M., & Otieno Jowi, J. (eds.), Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism (pp. 2760). Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar
Mama, A. (2017). The Power of Feminist Pan-African Intellect. Feminist Africa, 22, 115.Google Scholar
Mamdani, M. (2016). Between the Public Intellectual and the Scholar: Decolonization and Some Post-independence Initiatives in African Higher Education. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 17(1), 6883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mbembe, A. (2001). On the Postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Mbembe, A. (2016). Decolonizing the University: New Directions. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 15(1), 2945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mbembe, A. (n.d.). Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive. Africa Is a Country. Retrieved 5 May 2019.Google Scholar
McAdam, Doug, McCarthy, John D., & Zald, Mayer N. (1996). Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mignolo, W. D. (2009). Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-Colonial Freedom. Theory, Culture & Society, 27(7–8), 123.Google Scholar
Mignolo, W. D. (2011). Epistemic Disobedience and the Decolonial Option: A Manifesto. Transmodernity, 1(2), 4466.Google Scholar
Mignolo, W. D. (2011). The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Mignolo, W. D. (2013). Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing: On (De)coloniality, Border Thinking, and Epistemic Disobedience. Confero, 1(1), 129150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mignolo, W. D., & Walsh, C. E. (2018). On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mpofu-Walsh, S. (2016). The Game’s the Same: ‘MustFall’ Moves to Euro-America. In Booysen, S. (ed.), Fees Must Fall: Student Revolt, Decolonization and Governance in South Africa (pp. 7486). Johannesburg: Wits University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Newsinger, John. (2016). Why Rhodes Must Fall. Race & Class, 58(2), 7078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ngcaweni, Wandile. (2016). Revisiting the ABCs of the Decolonial Paradigm of Fallism. The Daily Vox 30 September 2016. Scholar
Nyamnjoh, F. B. (2016). #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa. Mankon: Langaa Research and Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piven, Frances F. (2006). Challenging Authority. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
RMF Oxford (2015). RMF Oxford Press Release: Oxford Students Call for Cecil John Rhodes Statue to Fall. RMF Oxford, 4 November 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2019.Google Scholar
RMF Oxford (2018). Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Sandlin, J., O’Malley, M., & Burdick, J. (2011). Mapping the Complexity of Public Pedagogy Scholarship: 1894–2010. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 338375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tarrow, S. (1994). Power in Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Xaba, W. (2017). Challenging Fanon: A Black Radical Feminist Perspective on Violence and the Fees Must Fall Movement. Agenda, 31(3–4), 96104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats