New student activism after Apartheid: the case of Open Stellenbosch

Mpatlanyane, Vanessa Lebohang (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis considers recent student activism in post-apartheid South Africa by paying attention to Open Stellenbosch, a black-led student movement at Stellenbosch University. By using data collected from the beginning of 2015 to mid-2016 from Facebook and Twitter feeds, interviews, and participant observation in protest action, I show how such movements articulate feelings of alienation and concerns around fees, thereby drawing attention to the contradictions and unfulfilled promises of both South Africa’s higher education and of the new democratic dispensation. Furthermore, I argue that although Open Stellenbosch can be located within a broader history of student activism, such activism can be thought of in new ways because of the way in which student experiences and grievances are represented. Through this work I draw attention to the student activist as an intellectual, investigating the use of social media by such movements. I finally engage the decline of Open Stellenbosch, arguing that multiple factors such as institutional repression have been key in the demise of the movement. Looking beyond 2015-6, I conclude that the use of social media, unresolved student grievances, pockets of conscientised students on campus, as well as a growing black women leadership in the student body suggests the possibility of student activism re-emerging in the future.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis oorweeg die onlangse aktivisme in post-apartheid- Suid-Afrika deur aandag te skenk aan Open Stellenbosch, ’n swart-begeleide studentebeweging by Universiteit Stellenbosch. Ek gebruik data wat versamel was aan die begin van 2015 tot middel 2016 vanaf die sosiale netwerke Facebook en Twitter, onderhoude en deelnemende observasie tydens protesaksie. Deur dié versamelde data te gebruik, wys ek hoe sulke bewegings die gevoelens rondom vervreemding en bekommernisse rondom fooie artikuleer en sodoende aandag trek na die teenstellings en leë beloftes van beide die Suid-Afrikaanse hoëronderwys en die nuwe demokratiese orde. Verder argumenteer ek dat alhoewel Open Stellenbosch binne die breër geskiedenis van studente-aktivisme gevind kan word, kan daar van sulke aktivisme op nuwe maniere gedink word as gevolg van die maniere waarop studente-evaringe en ergernisse verteenwoordig word. Deur hierdie werk, trek ek aandag na die studente-aktivis as intellektueel en ondersoek die gebruik van sosiale media deur sulke bewegings. Ek spreek uiteindelik die afname van Open Stellenbosch aan, en argumenteer dat veelvoudige faktore soos institusionele onderdrukking die sleutel is tot die ondergang van die beweging. Deur tekyk na verder as 2015-6, kom ek tot die gevolgtrekking dat die gebruik van sosiale media, onopgeloste ergernisse, sakke van sosiaal en politieke bewuste studente op kampus, sowel as groeiende leierskap van swart vroue in die studenteliggaam stel die moontlikheid voor dat studente-aktiviste weer in die toekoms te voorskyn sal kom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103757
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