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


Discourse analysis
critical whiteness studies


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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