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Living the future now: `Race' and challenges of transformation in higher education

ZE Erasmus


Drawing on research among medical students at the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Health Sciences, this article explores two questions: How do students and staff work with `race' in their relations to one another? What challenges do these relations pose for transformation? Data was gathered using in-depth interviews with forty-one students during 2001. Standard methodological and analytical procedures ensured increasing reliability and validity of the study. This study revealed an unyielding racialisation of every day life, consciousness and knowledge in the learning environment. The work of Frantz Fanon frames this analysis. It concludes staff and students work with a conception of `race' as a fixed essence. This presents certain chaIlenges for transformation: to free `race' from the grips of absolute difference; to articulate an expanded conception of `the human'; and to shift from the human family towards the human polity as a unit of solidarity.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20 (3) 2006: 413-425

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eISSN: 1011-3487