Comparative Histories of Education in South Africa

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Despite South Africa’s integration into global historical patterns since colonialism, and the continuing evidence of the past in the present, the study of South Africa’s educational history in comparative and international perspective is poorly developed. Post-apartheid and post-colonial challenges are rooted in the colonial and apartheid pasts with their global and transnational links. This project aims to probe these histories of connection and disconnection between past and present, South Africa and the world, the continent, and region. It is interested in how knowledge has travelled through colonial and non-colonial circuits, been received and transformed. Its foci include histories of formal, non-formal and informal education through the colonial and apartheid periods and spans histories of literacy, reading and development of other capabilities as taken up in and through schools, colleges, communities, trade unions, political organisations and groups of individuals. Included are histories of control, surveillance and supervision; creation, distribution and reception of textual and visual resources; teachers and teaching; pedagogies and learning. In developing such histories, the project draws on multiple methods to explore the political, social and economic elaboration of unequal and divided systems and processes, and the classed raced and gendered constitution and subversions of identity and subjectivity.

Lead Researcher: Linda Chisholm