News & events


Dialogue in places of Learning – Youth amplified in South Africa

20 September 2016
12:30 - 14:00

Dr Adam Cooper
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Specialist, Human and Social Development, HSRC

Date:     20 September 2016
Time:     12:30 – 14:00
Venue:   VCC in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

Preesentation available for download below:

This seminar is based on the author’s recent book which explores how young people from one Cape Town neighbourhood that was constructed during apartheid, learnt differently in classrooms, by comparison with when they were part of a community hiphop crew or participating in a youth radio show. The research illuminates how South African schools subtly reproduce inequalities by sorting students into hierarchies of worth. This sorting process is linked to assessments of language usage. Like many poor youth in the global era, these young people’s words are evidence of cultural mixing that occurred during colonialism, slavery and, more recently, through patterns of global mobility.

Their language is bound up in the histories and social hierarchies of the places in which they grow up. While many of the youth that feature in the research are experts at creatively using words from different sources, their language is often interpreted as evidence of inferiority. Linguistic prejudices are particularly prominent at schools, where standardized language forms are endorsed. The study shows how schools do and do not reproduce oppression, how popular educational spaces may ignite the magic needed to overcome past injustices and how educational places can be reimagined in the global era.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 28 September 2016

Cape Town
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Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: