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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.40 n.3 Pretoria Dec. 2010




Exploring the history of occupational therapy's development in South Africa to reveal the flaws in our knowledge base



Robin Joubert

Nat.Dip.OT (Pretoria), BA(UNISA), MOT (UDW), D.Ed (UKZN); Associate Professor and Head of the School of Audiology, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology, University of KwaZulu Natal





This article explores the origins of occupational therapy in South Africa and how its birth, at the end of the Second World War, in a post-colonial era, with an emerging apartheid government, gave rise to an epistemology that was flawed. It was flawed by virtue of its origins within a Eurocentric, paternalistic and male dominated health milieu under the influence of the medical model and by virtue of the unnatural, oppressive nature of governance at the time. Flawed because it inadequately collaborated with disabled people, Africans and South African Indians both in the design of curricula and research.
Using a qualitative design with a substantial and broad set of data sources, this research attempted to expose these flawed layers and to explore how they impacted on the epistemology of South African occupational therapy. It is proposed that the method employed for reviewing both the scope ofpractice and its practitioners could bring into being more appropriate South African occupational therapy education in the future.

Key words: Epistemology, historical review, changing face of occupational therapy, discourse, indigenous knowledge



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Robin Joubert

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