UCT academic resigns over 'racist' research

16 May 2019 - 09:38
By Zoe Mahopo
University of Cape Town. File photo
Image: UCT Student @UCTStudent via Twitter University of Cape Town. File photo

An academic accused of promoting racism through a research article he co-authored has resigned from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and removed his affiliation with the institution from the article in question.

Yesterday the University confirmed that Prof Simplice Asongu tendered his resignation after a journal article he co-authored with Oasis Kodila-Tedika sparked controversy. The study which is titled Intelligence and slave exports from Africa was published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics.

It makes a finding that countries with higher IQ levels were more likely to experience lower instances of slave exports from Africa.

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“We postulate and justify a hypothesis that countries which are endowed with higher cognitive ability are more likely to experience lower levels of slave exports probably due to relatively better abilities to organise, corporate, oversee and confront slave vendors,” it states.

It goes on to state that the link between slave trade and intelligence conceivable.

On Wednesday UCT spokesman Elijah Moholola said they distanced themselves from the content of the research paper.

“The university views any research based on or proposing racial stereotypes as being contradictory to the university’s academic values and standards of scholarship. UCT rejects the assumptions of the paper and this line of research as bad science. It is in opposition to our commitment to academic excellence and an inclusive community,” Moholola said.

He said they requested Asongu who was affiliated to the development Finance Centre at the UCT Graduate School of Business to remove his affiliation to the institution in the article.

“The study had not been submitted to the ethics committee of the Graduate School of Business and no other members of the school were involved in the research. The adjunct professor has since written to the journal withdrawing his relationship with UCT,” Moholola said.

Moholola said the study did not go through the ethical clearance process which is usual for adjunct professors. Asongu, a Cameroonian academic, had not responded to questions sent to him via email by the time of publishing.