Global Leadership SerIES - IES Abroad Cape Town Professor Dr. Carla Lever

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In this installment of Fireside Chats with Fascinating Faculty, part of the IES Abroad Global Leadership SerIES, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, IES Abroad Associate Vice President, Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism, and Director of Diversity Recruitment and Advising, hosted a live Zoom event with IES Abroad Cape Town Professor Dr. Carla Lever, who teaches the course Power & Protest: Apartheid to Present. 

Dr. Lever discusses how the course came about, from her interest in (and not to mention her thesis on) everyday acts of performance and how the course uses protest as a framework for understanding inequality, particularly in the South African context. She explains that the course subject matter lends itself to experiential learning, from visiting an activist training organization, to touring an informal settlement to learn why people are protesting, to starting class at the site of a defaced statue; teaching outside of the classroom allows students to feel uncomfortable in spaces, since not everyone can navigate space and culture in the same way.

Gretchen and Dr. Lever also speak with former IES Abroad Cape Town student Michaela Scott, who discusses why this course "was different than any class I’ve ever is the definition of experiential learning" and how she's applied this framework in her own work back in the United States.

Without revealing too much, it's best to hear from Dr. Lever in her own words and witness the power and passion behind her course and work, as well as learn a new thing or two, as Gretchen admittedly did!

About Dr. Lever:

Dr. Carla Lever is a Research Fellow at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town and a 2021 Visiting Fellow at the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth. She holds a Ph.D .in Performance Studies from the University of Sydney, where she explored the connection between performance, embodied anxiety, and South African national identity.

Her current research at the Mandela School focuses on protest and creative activism, with a particular interest in the intersection between embodiment, commemoration, and political spectacle. The co-recipient of a 2018 research award from the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR) for work on statue-based protest, she regularly guest lectures on radical activist connections between the Unites States and South Africa.

An advocate of accessible, responsive, and open-access research, Dr Lever’s academic outputs are informed by her experience as a journalist and creative writer. A 2017 visiting arts fellow at Theaterformen Festival, Braunschweig and 2013 BASA award-winner for arts opinion writing, her short stories have been published in English and German. In 2019, she received a grant to co-write and -perform a participatory theatre project in Cape Town’s "Infecting the City" Public Arts festival.

She currently lectures undergraduate courses in protest and performance, while completing her monologue "Performing Contemporary South African Protest: Contemporary Activism from the Street to the Stage" (Amsterdam University Press 2022).

“This course taught me how to find my place within a lot of different movements and demonstrations..whether that’s complicit in some senses or my position as an ally. It’s allowed me to zoom out of things going on today and see where I lie, where I can insert myself respectfully, and give me a level of confidence in doing so.”
Michaela Scott | IES Abroad Cape Town, Fall 2019 | Villanova University

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