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Studying While Black: Race, Education, and Emancipation in South African Universities

Sharlene Swartz, Alude Mahali, Relebohile Moletsane, Emma Arogundade, Nene Ernest Khalema, Adam Cooper, and Candice Groenewald
Studying While Black: Race, Education, and Emancipation in South African Universities
ISBN: 978-0-7969-2508-4
2018/258 pages
Distributed for HSRC Press


An intimate portrait of the university experiences of a diverse sample of South African students, Studying While Black highlights the centrality of both race and geography in the quest for education and, ultimately, emancipation.

The book is the outcome of a five-year longitudinal qualitative study of eighty students from eight  universities. The authors, a team of researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council, draw on their findings to provide fresh insights on the ongoing struggles in South Africa to transform the country's higher education system.


Sharlene Swartz Sharlene Swartz is executive director of the Education and Skills Development Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council. Alude Mahali is a research specialist at HSRC. Relebohile Moletsane holds the J. L. Dube Chair in Rural Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Emma Arogundade is academic coordinator at the School for International Training in Cape Town. Nene Ernest Khalema is dean of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Adam Cooper and Candice Groenewald are senior research specialists at HSRC.


  • South African Students and Their Struggles: An In-Depth View.
  • Participants and Their Institutions: Individuals in Context.
  • Navigating Race in Higher Education and Beyond.
  • Gender Dynamics and (In)Equality of Experiences.
  • Language and Power as Structural Barriers.
  • Obstacles to Access and Participation in Universities.
  • Students' Perspectives and Strategies for Success.
  • Interventionist Research Strategies for Emancipation.
  • Conclusion: Skills and Systemic Change Needed.