Unpacking (white) privilege in a South African university classroom: A neglected element in multicultural educational contexts

SOURCE: Journal of Moral Education
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2014
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.Swartz, E.Arogundade, D.Davis
KEYWORDS: CULTURAL DIVERSITY, EQUALITY, HIGHER EDUCATION, RACE RELATIONS, UNIVERSITIES
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8345

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Abstract

Multiculturalism currently aims for the political accommodation of difference instead of the subversion of the resulting privileges of difference. In the South African context such a distinction is especially important since the economic and symbolic subjugation of the majority of Black South Africans continues despite political transformation, and is exacerbated by an unwillingness to reflect on privilege and inequality. Drawing on Biko and Soudien's critique of multiculturalism and vision for anti-racist education, this paper describes a classroom activity set for 164 nationally and culturally diverse second year sociology students at a university in Cape Town, South Africa. The activity tasked students to reflect on texts by Peggy McIntosh and Khaya Dlanga (one canonical, the other contextual) and reports on these students' nuanced understandings of personal biography, experiences of privilege and self-reflexivity that connects personal experience to social structure and historical contexts. It concludes by offering modest implications for moral education in a multicultural university classroom.