The Adam Tas student association and the tension between Afrikaans identity and transformation at Stellenbosch University

Kriel, Berenice Gwendoline (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: After 1994, transformation interventions in all sectors of South African society were needed to adequately address socio-economic disparities caused by apartheid policies. The objective of equalising conditions between 'racially' divided categories within the education sector was thus a high priority for the newly elected democratic government. Higher education institutions, including Stellenbosch University (SU) also recognised the need for transformation to eradicate 'racial' inequalities at formerly white Afrikaans institutions. However, given these inequalities, the interventions at SU led to disagreements over language policy that resulted in a fiery taaldebat (language debate). This in turn, also gave rise to tensions between maintaining an Afrikaans identity for the university versus transforming it into a multicultural one in which English as medium of instruction would be increasingly used. It is precisely because SU was still grappling with the above that I decided to embark on a study that investigated the complexities emerging in the nexus between transformation, language and identity, by focusing on a student initiative, the Adam Tas association. This study seeks to understand how the process of transformation is unfolding at a historically Afrikaans university (HAU) where identity politics plays a major role in terms of linguistic and 'racial' matters. The second objective is to provide a better understanding of what the Adam Tas student association entails as well as to investigate its goals and actions in a broader contextual perspective. My research is also geared towards discovering what the future of teaching in Afrikaans might be on university and national level. Lastly, this anthropological study attempts to provide the reader with an alternative understanding of the challenges that are associated with the transformation process of a HAU, within the larger context of higher education transformation in South Africa. The uncertainty surrounding the 'higher functions' of Afrikaans, brought about by the implementation of a more inclusive language policy at SU, resulted in the establishment of Adam Tas by a group of students. The association's motto of 'Transformation through Afrikaans‟ is indicative of Adam Tas's strong association with only one language, Afrikaans. This emphasis on Afrikaans is thus contradictory to its claim of supporting the inclusion and integration of all diverse 'racial' categories. Despite Adam Tas's claim that it is in agreement with university management regarding SU being in need of transformation, the vision of this association is also contradictory to one of the goals of university management: transforming Stellenbosch University into a non-ethnic university. In drawing conclusions on the discourse of identity, my research showed that Adam Tas is still viewed by many non-white, non-Afrikaans-speakers at SU as a white, Afrikaner association with a right-wing agenda, despite its numerous efforts to rid the association of this exclusive image. Another finding regarding Adam Tas is that it is promoting Afrikaner culture through its numerous activities and social events which have strong links to white, Afrikaner culture. The fact that the majority of its membership is white and Afrikaans-speaking, contributes to the association‟s white, Afrikaner identity, in a concrete and visible manner.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Na 1994 was transformasie intervensies in alle sektore binne die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing nodig om sosio-ekonomiese ongelykhede, veroorsaak deur apartheidsbeleid, voldoende aan te spreek. Die doelwit van die nuut verkose regering om kondisies binne die opvoedkundige sektor gelyk te maak, was dus 'n hoë prioriteit. Hoër onderwysinstellings, ingeslote Universiteit Stellenbosch (US), het ook die behoefte aan transformasie raakgesien as 'n middel om rasse-ongelykhede by historiese Afrikaanse universiteite (HAUs) uit te roei. Gegewe hierdie ongelykhede, het die implementering van transformerende intervensies by US egter gelei tot verskille rakende taalbeleid wat in 'n vurige taaldebat ontaard het. Laasgenoemde het weer op sy beurt aanleiding gegee tot spanning tussen die behoud van 'n Afrikaanse identiteit vir die universiteit teenoor die transformering van hierdie identiteit in 'n multikulturele een waar Engels as voertaal meer prominent gebruik sou word. Weens die feit dat US nog steeds met die bogenoemde kwessies worstel, het ek besluit om hierdie studie aan te pak waarin die komplekse verhouding tussen transformasie, taal en identiteit ondersoek word, deur te fokus op 'n studente-inisiatief, die Adam Tas studente-organisasie. Dié studie stel ondersoek in na die wyse waarop die transformasieproses by 'n HAU ontvou, waar identiteitspolitiek 'n groot rol speel by taal- en rasse-kwessies. Die tweede doelwit is om 'n beter begrip van die Adam Tas studente-organisasie te bied asook hul doelwitte en aksies in 'n breër kontekstuele perspektief te ondersoek. My navorsing is ook gerig op wat die toekoms vir Afrikaanse onderrig op universiteits – asook nasionale vlak mag inhou. Ten slotte, poog dié antropologiese studie om 'n alternatiewe begrip aan die leser te bied in terme van die uitdagings wat geassosieer word met die transformasie-proses van 'n HAU, binne die groter konteks van hoër onderwys transformasie in Suid-Afrika. Die implementering van 'n meer inklusiewe taalbeleid by US, het verhoogde onsekerheid rondom die 'hoër funksies' van Afrikaans meegebring, wat weer gelei het tot die stigting van Adam Tas deur 'n groep studente. Die motto van die organisasie, 'Transformasie deur Afrikaans', dui op Adam Tas se sterk bande met slegs een taal, Afrikaans. Dié klem op Afrikaans is teenstrydig met hul bewering dat hulle inklusiwiteit en integrasie van alle diverse groepe steun. Alhoewel Adam Tas beweer om in ooreenstemming met universiteitsbestuur te wees dat US transformasie benodig, blyk hul visie teenstrydig te wees met een van die doelwitte van die universiteit: om die universiteit in 'n nie-etniese instelling te omskep. Aangaande die identiteitsdiskoers, het navorsing getoon dat Adam Tas nog steeds deur die meerderheid nie-wit, nie-Afrikaanstaliges by US as 'n wit, Afrikaner-organisasie met 'n regse agenda beskou word, ten spyte van verskeie pogings om die organisasie juis van hierdie eksklusiewe beeld te stroop. 'n Verdere bevinding oor Adam Tas was dat die organisasie Afrikaner-kultuur bevorder het deur hul vele aktiwiteite en sosiale funksies wat sterk bande met wit, Afrikaner-kultuur weerspiëel het. Die feit dat die meerderheid van hul lede wit, Afrikaans-moedertaalsprekers is, dra by tot die assosiasie met wit, Afrikaner-identiteit op 'n meer konkrete en sigbare wyse.

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