Seminar: Student protests in South Africa as new social action spaces


Video duration: 
1 h 32 min.

Hlumi  Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

The current student protests at South African universities can be understood within a broader context of (dis)continuities of apartheid. Although these protests have been happening at historically black universities for some time, only since they affected historically white universities have they become (inter)national news. South Africa’s current economic situation and the impact of neo-liberalism on global Higher Education mean that state funding has been drastically reduced. In this climate, students are trying to shape a new movement around an agenda of decolonization and a critique of transformation at universities. Transformation is slow, and not enough is done to redress power inequalities. The curriculum has hardly changed and fails to sufficiently reflect African realities in a global world. The student movement resists alignment with national political parties and charts new trajectories of popular politics and organizing change. New social action spaces are emerging globally: they are mass based, often organized around a specific issue and resist hierarchical structures. But new forms of organizing reveal new vulnerabilities. In student assemblies, it is difficult to make space for plural perspectives on race identity, class politics, issues of feminism and patriarchy. There are big gaps between students and between the universities, but both sides are asking: what should public (South) African universities in the 21st century look like?

Caroline SuranskyDr. Caroline Suransky works in the Dept. of Globalization – and Dialogue Studies at the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht and at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice of the University of the Free State in South Africa. Her recent publications include: Humanistic education for teaching in a globalizing world . In: Socially Just Pedagogies, Capabilities and Quality in Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK (forthcoming), An Agonistic Model of Dialogue in: International Journal for Dialogical Science  (ISSN 1556-1720), together with Hans Alma (forthcoming), Zwarte Piet is Racisme - in gesprek met Quinsy Gario. Waardenwerk, (ISSN 2214-3149), 62/63, 24-36 (2015), together with N.L. Jouwe and Transcending apartheid in higher education: transforming an institutional culture in: Race Ethnicity and Education, together with J.C. van der Merwe (2014).

Date, time and location

30 June 2016
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 1A27 (first floor)