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

Robin Joubert


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 Africa occupational therapy. It is proposed that the method employed for reviewing both the scope of practice 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. 

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

CC license
This Open Access journal is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License [CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0]. Under this license, authors agree to make articles available to users, without permission or fees, for any lawful, non- commercial purpose. Users may read, copy, or re-use published content as long as the author and original place of publication are properly cited.