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Identities in Transition: Shifting Conceptions of Home among “Black” South African University Students

  • Bongi Bangeni and Rochelle Kapp


This paper is drawn from a longitudinal case study in which we are tracking the progress of twenty students as they pursue their undergraduate degrees at the University of Cape Town. In this paper we trace two first-generation university students' changing constructions of who they are and the concomitant changes in their relationship to home and university over the course of three years. We describe their struggles to present coherent “home” identities and the ways in which these identities are challenged by both the dominant discourses of the institution and by rejection by their home communities. The research questions conventional notions that students from marginalized communities are either alienated from, or uncritically assimilated into, dominant institutional discourses.


Cet essai découle d'une étude de cas longitudinale dans laquelle nous suivons le progrès de vingt étudiants dans la poursuite de leurs études universitaires à l'université de Cape Town. Dans cette étude, nous traçons l'évolution de leur construction identitaire et les changements concomitants visibles dans leur relation à l'université et à leur lieu d'origine au cours de trois années. Nous décrivons leurs tentatives de présenter une image identitaire cohérente de leur origine, et les manières dont ces identités sont mises en question à la fois par les discours dominants institutionnels et par le rejet provenant de leurs communautés d'origine. La recherche met en question les notions conventionnelles indiquant que les étudiants provenant de communautés marginales sont soit aliénés par, soit assimilés de manière neutre dans les discours dominants institutionnels.



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Identities in Transition: Shifting Conceptions of Home among “Black” South African University Students

  • Bongi Bangeni and Rochelle Kapp


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