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‘This country beyond the township’: race, class and higher education mobilities in the post-apartheid city

Webb, Christopher (2023) ‘This country beyond the township’: race, class and higher education mobilities in the post-apartheid city. Geoforum, 139. ISSN 0016-7185

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2023.103678


This paper examines the impact of educational mobilities on the lives of university students from an urban working-class township in South Africa. In highly unequal urban contexts, these mobilities provide access to valuable material resources and engender subjective transformations that facilitate access to higher education spaces. Based on fieldwork with students from Khayelitsha, a black urban township in Cape Town, it argues that these mobilities are shaped histories of racial segregation, demands of globalizing labour markets, and students’ personal readings of changing urban environments. Drawing on the concept of mobility capital, the paper suggests that even as these movements enable access to educational opportunities, they do not automatically generate the forms of capital required for social mobility. While students used mobilities to access higher education, they struggled to develop the social networks, embodied dispositions, language skills and cultural competencies that would provide social advantage. Rather, their experiences on campus reveal how mobility capital is structured by material and symbolic inequalities, which are frequently alienating and exclusionary. Finally, the paper emphasizes the importance of everyday movements and attachments between home and university spaces to the formation of student identities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 Elsevier Ltd.
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: L Education
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2023 16:45
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 07:06

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