Conversations among Black staff members at a historically White Afrikaans university campus on issues of race, social justice and reconciliation

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 10
  • Abstract:

    In an ethnographically designed study, guided by a critical community psychology framework, Black staff members at a historically White Afrikaans university campus conducted email conversations relating to issues of race, social justice and reconciliation. The conversations were initiated by the author (Black) who mainly used prompts found in the local institutional context to elicit responses from colleagues. A critical discourse approach to thematic analysis of the email conversations was followed. The main findings are: Compared to the potential number of respondents (32 Black staff members or 18% of all faculty staff), very few colleagues (9 or 28% of Black staff members) responded via email to the invitations but, when met in person, all expressed strong views on the topics or prompts used in the initialising emails. The critical discourse approach revealed clear psychopolitical awareness and strong discourses of fear, powerlessness and bitterness, as well as a discourse of non-engagement. These discourses appeared in all three domains of analysis: local, institutional and societal. Theoretical explication is sought mainly in resistance theory for the discourse of non-engagement and the scarcity of responses located in the local domain. Transformative resistance is suggested so that alternative discourses are inculcated, at least, in faculties of education at some historically White Afrikaans university campuses.