Coming to UCT: Black students, transformation and discourses of race
Since the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, increasing numbers of black students have been enrolling at historically whites-only universities. This situation has been paralleled by a resurgence of racialising discourses that represent black students as lacking in competencies, lowering academic standards and undeserving of their places at university. This paper investigates the impact of these discourses on black students at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Over six months, 24 students from seven departments and four faculties participated in a Photovoice project during which they produced photographs and stories representing their experiences at UCT. The findings demonstrate that, through practices of material and symbolic exclusion, racialising discourses of transformation had a detrimental impact on students, affecting their self-esteem, sense of belonging, and academic performance. The discussion reflects on the identity dynamics and the coping strategies that black students adopt to fit into the whiteness of the university.
Keywords: Transformation, black students, South Africa, higher education; race, Photovoice
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).