Shifting boundaries of racial space in post-apartheid South Africa: The case of Afrikaner youth in East London

Luvuyo Ntombana, Thandiwe Bubulu


South African democracy has brought about changes like freedom of associations, as opposed to apartheid which emphasised separateness of races and cultures. This social change warrants new ways of living among South Africans, especially among young people. Using a qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews, this study examined how white Afrikaans-speaking university students carve out their identities, given the reality that political, social and cultural circumstances have changed in the last two decades. Participants consisted of Afrikaner university students, based in East London. This study attempts to understand difficulties and privileges associated with being a young white South African 20 years after the fall of the apartheid regime. Seeing that the participants were not born during apartheid, we wanted to understand the extent to which their parents’ perception, influence and stories affected the way participants identify themselves, their place and their roles in the democratic South Africa. The study found that Afrikaner youth are caught between two worlds: the democratic and contemporary social context, and their parents’ traditional or orthodox way of seeing things. This study also found out that, in spite of some of their parents’ influence on racism and the perception of the South African community about white people, these young people are able to carve out their own identity in which they are able to shift racial space boundaries.


race; racisim; Afrikaner; apartheid; democracy

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Submitted: 15 March 2017
Published: 17 November 2017

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The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa    |    ISSN: 1817-4434 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2415-2005 (ONLINE)