Ignite some agency: how teaching assistants engage whiteness at a South African university

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Marthinus Stander Conradie


Decolonial scholarship, although multifaceted, includes questioning how abstract theorisations could concretely reform department-specific pedagogies. This study builds on the proposition that decolonisation is served, at least partially, by department-specific pedagogies that oppose whiteness. It is grounded in a Department of English at a historically-white South African university. Using critical whiteness studies (CWS), I launch a discourse analysis of the experiential narratives expressed by Teaching Assistants during individual interviews. CWS equips me to examine how these contractually-employed educators manage their intersectional subjectivities as they facilitate small-group discussions among undergraduates in support of professors’ official lectures. I focus on their reactions to the way students explore experiences of subordination.


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How to Cite
Conradie, M. S. (2022). Ignite some agency: how teaching assistants engage whiteness at a South African university. Society Register, 6(1), 19-40. https://doi.org/10.14746/sr.2022.6.1.02
Author Biography

Marthinus Stander Conradie, University of the Free State

Marthinus Stander Conradie holds a PhD in critical discourse analysis and inferential pragmatics from the University of the Free State (South Africa), where he is currently employed at the Department of English. His research interests are grounded in discourse analysis and critical race theory, which he has applied to examine everyday political argumentation, the construction of race and racism as well as whiteness. His publications include analyses of South African students’ online discussions of personal experiences of racial discrimination and micro-aggressions on university campuses, citizens’ online deliberations via asynchronous news forums, as well as media depictions of Africa in print advertising.


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