Lerato Posholi – Basel: a beautiful calm city for intellectual life
I came to Basel with the goal to spend a few months doing some focused reading for and writing of my PhD, as well as to open up opportunities to engage with international scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and to form new friendships. I am now six months into my one-year research visit, and I can happily say that the University of Basel has been the best place for me to pursue these goals.
Two main experiences form the highlight of my Basel research visit. The first has to do with my intellectual needs and aspirations, and the other with personal growth. In my short stay here, I have experienced the intellectual vibrancy and rigour of the University of Basel. My intellectual needs have been greatly supported by both the Europainstitute and Centre for African Studies, and my work has benefitted greatly from the mentorship and supervision from Prof Ralph Weber (Europainstitute) and Prof Allais and Prof Shalem(University of the Witwatersrand).
I have also had the opportunity to participate in a number of intellectually stimulating seminars and talks. Some highlights include a workshop (hosted by the Centre for African Studies) with one of the key scholars that I am reading for my thesis (Prof Walter Mignolo). I also presented at ECAS 2019 and was fully funded to attend the conference by the Centre for African Studies. Through these engagements, I had the opportunity to share ideas I was working on in my PhD, to have them challenged and to receive constructive feedback on how to develop them further. I was also seamlessly integrated into the university system and was able to participate in a number of opportunities for graduate students including a weekend writing retreat, graduate seminars and writing workshops hosted by the G3S.
On the personal side, my time in Basel has presented the opportunity to reconnect with friends that I met in the CODESRIA summer school in Dakar, as well as form new friendships with other graduate scholars from Africa and the world more broadly. The G3S has been particularly instrumental in providing a space for these new friendships to emerge and grow. I am humbled by how much I have learned about the richness and diversity within Europe, and this has helped me critically reflect on how I continue my scholarship.
I also took up the opportunity offered by the canton to learn German, and it has been one of my best experiences in Basel. German is a difficult language and I am not sure how well I will be able to speak the language at the end of my course. But learning German has been a fun experience that has awakened a love for learning new languages that I did not know I have.
The city of Basel, with its beauty and calm, has been a productive place for thinking and writing my PhD thesis, as well as a great place to discover new hobbies and form new friendships. I’ve enjoyed the serenity and greenery that the city offers. Basel is definitely one of my top favorite cities now.