School of Built Environment and Development Studies Seminar

Title: ‘South African Youth’ Experiences of Social Cohesion through Schooling’

Speaker: Christina Cappy

Time: 12h30 – 13h50, 5 November,  2014.

Venue: Seminar Room F213, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Memorial Tower Building, UKZN. Google maps: -29.866933,30.981963


Government policymakers frequently attempt to use educational projects to instill a sense of national identity and patriotism in their citizens. As a contemporary example of such efforts, the South African government has turned to education as a means to smooth over the divisions of apartheid and develop a cohesive society. Based on one year of ethnographic research in rural and township secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, this presentation offers preliminary insights into how educators and learners identify and experience the practices of nation-state citizenship that are taught through history, English language, and life orientation courses. I ask the following questions: (a) how do policymakers’ and educators’ understandings of the role of education in developing national cohesion shape instructional efforts in schools, (b) how do youth make sense of lessons intended to promote nation-building and cohesion, and (c) how do youth rework their educational experiences and sense of national belonging within their environment in efforts to create secure, fulfilled lives. By taking into account sources of division and cohesion that confront youth everyday, this talk explores how youth experience belonging in a country marked by both pervasive inequality and high hopes for the future.


Christina Cappy is a PhD candidate in Educational Policy Studies and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently a Fulbright scholar conducting research in secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

Posted on