‘White excellence and black failure’: The reproduction of racialised higher education in everyday talk

Robus, D. and Macleod, C. (2006) ‘White excellence and black failure’: The reproduction of racialised higher education in everyday talk. South African Journal of Psychology, 36 (3). pp. 463-480. ISSN 0081-2463

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Since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994, much effort has been expended on overcoming the institutionalised racism that characterised apartheid. The transformation of higher education, particularly with regard to the merging and incorporation of institutions, is such an example. This article is an analysis of discourses on race emerging in the talk of students and staff during the incorporation of a historically white satellite campus (Rhodes University East London) into a historically black university (University of Fort Hare). The argument, which relies on Essed’s notion of everyday racism, infused with insights from discursive psychology, is that higher education institutions areracialised through the intricate interweaving of macro-level processes and discourses that recur in everyday talk and practices. In their talk, the participants in the study persistently assigned racialised identities to the institutions (Rhodes is white and Fort Hare is black) and invoked a ‘white excellence/black failure’ discourse. ‘White excellence’ folds in on, and is reproduced by, the desirable, modern, urban space and an appeal to Euro-American standards. Institutions and individuals are positioned as being able to overcome ‘black failure’ by moving into white space and through intense personal labour.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This is an author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the South African Journal of Psychology following peer review. The final version of the article was published in SAJP, 36(3), p. 463 - 480.
Uncontrolled Keywords:discourse; everyday racism; higher education; incorporation; merger; race; racism; transformation; universities
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Psychology
ID Code:609
Deposited By: tracy morison
Deposited On:04 Jul 2007
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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