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Seminaar uj creolization vs essentialism

presentation by Kees van der Waal at the SOTL @ UJ: Towards a socially just pedagogy seminar series in May 2015.

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Seminaar uj creolization vs essentialism

  1. 1. Creolization versus Essentialism: The Relevance of Glissant’s Notion of Relation for the Transformation of South African Higher Education Kees van der Waal Stellenbosch University 21 May 2015
  2. 2. Overview • Essentialist concepts and their consequences • Glissant and his views on creolization and Relation • Implications for transformative pedagogy
  3. 3. Essentialist concepts and their consequences • Colonial and apartheid essentialisms – Race, culture, language – classification of units – Academic (e.g. volkekunde) and common sense – Discourse and practice: exclusion, racism, identity politics, polarization of imagined static, bounded entities – South African examples of strong ethnic identities: Afrikaner and Zulu, resistance against mixing
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  7. 7. Essentialism • Problem of essentialism – Generalization vs variation, complexity and fluidity – Against Essentialism, Stephan Fuchs, 2001: against taking things for granted, as given – More entangled conception of history needed: relationships, networks • Post-apartheid continuities of essentialism in context of inequality – Strategies for nation-building, while using ‘race’ – Constitution, Bill of Rights, non-discrimination and equality, but also separate identities and retraditionalization – Whiteness and xenophobia express polarizations – Cultural and language politics continue to essentialize, exclude
  8. 8. Taaldebat (language debate) at Stellenbosch • Teaching Afrikaans and English – Intense emotions, primordialist understandings – Exclude students when teaching in Afrikaans – English becomes increasingly dominant in the academic setting – Afrikaans as a teaching medium and as a symbol of white identity • Studying language politics – Social identity is mediated through language – Pierre Bourdieu, Jan Blommaert: political economy of language, focus on language situations as speech events – Cultural capital, especially writing and education – Stratification of languages – Ideologies of language underlie the language struggle
  9. 9. • Hegemonic Afrikaans, its symbols and demise – Emerged as a creole in a violent colonial context – Appropriation and standardization – Used in the late 19th and early 20th century to mobilize Afrikaners – 1976 youth revolt against Afrikaans – 11 official languages post-apartheid – Afrikaner identity was initially mixed with racial superiority, but after 1990 explicit attempts were made to distance the language from its racial connotations – Third Afrikaans Language Movement
  10. 10. • Symbolism of the language expressed its link to ethno- nationalism: – A girl 1880 – A pearl 1920 – A miracle 1959 – Monoliths 1975 – A vulnerable lamb, death 2009 • Afrikaans had become the standard symbol of white Afrikanerdom
  11. 11. The Taal at Stellenbosch University • 1918 – 2002 informal pro-Afrikaans practice plus some English • 2002: Chris Brink, language policy and language options • Taaldebat uproar from a white elite perspective (alumni) • The essentialist position claims that the standard form of Afrikaans and the so-called ‘Afrikaans character’ of Stellenbosch University needs to be protected at all costs
  12. 12. • University management into defense: retain 60% Afrikaans courses • Increasingly metaphors of the body: death, biodiversity, ethnic cleansing, loss • Setting for language struggle, a last stand • New demographics and transformation – black students, young Afrikaans-speaking students, issues of access • Move to parallel teaching in 2009, translation 2014
  13. 13. Édouard Glissant (1928- 2011) and his views on creolization and Relation Martinique, France, Caribbean Poet and philosopher Post-nationalism
  14. 14. Creolization: close to social experience, non- essentialism • Derives from Caribbean linguistics: meetings of languages , mixing under conditions of slavery – pidgins and creoles – creolization as a an identity is a reaction to suffering • Against fixed identities or a dichotomy between Europe and Africa, argues for a connectedness between people in the whole world – creolization as relationship, history as adaptation • ‘[w]e must be ourselves, but . . . we must be beyond ourselves at the same time’ (Glissant in Dash and Troupe 2006:52)
  15. 15. • Relation = une poétique de la Relation, openness, e.g. a language is never singular, multilingualism is the normal condition, learn another language • ‘Multilingualism is the passionate desire to accept and understand our neighbor’s language and to confront the massive levelling force of language continuously imposed by the West – yesterday French, today with American English – with a multiplicity of languages and their mutual comprehension’ (Glissant 1989:249) • Afrikaans a creole language, formerly associated with arrogance and cruelty • Creolization as a cultural strategy – Celebration of mixtures – Denis Constant Martin Sounding the Cape , 2013 Jazz, Minstrel Carnival, boeremusiek, Afrikaaps
  16. 16. Musical theatre production: Afrikaaps a multimedia hipopera • 2010 at Baxter and KKNK, a documentary, European tour • Focus on creole background of working class Afrikaans, the non- standard of the Cape Flats • Part of empowerment activism using hip-hop and rap • A political voice, identity claims, strategic essentialism aiming at a more inclusive language politics in Afrikaans
  17. 17. Implications for transformative pedagogy • Teaching for social justice – Experiencing and accepting of difference – Relation to people studied, students, ethics, power – Critical dialogues, inter-relationships – Reflexivity needed, e.g. Brenda Leibowitz et al 2015 • Towards a critical cosmopolitanism for experiencing common humanity
  18. 18. Debates on classification and its effects relevant to higher education now Indexing The Human @ Stellenbosch (www.indexingthehuman.org)
  19. 19. • The ‘Open Stellenbosch’ movement manifesto – Afrikaans teaching – Hegemonic Afrikaner culture, role in apartheid – Transforming the curriculum – Centre for Diversity and Inclusivity to reopen • Looking beyond the campus at divisions and inequalities

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presentation by Kees van der Waal at the SOTL @ UJ: Towards a socially just pedagogy seminar series in May 2015.

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