The Constitution, Negotiation and Representation of Immigrant Student Identities in South African Schools

‘Think, instead of identity as a “production” which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside representation’ (Hall, 2000).

Abstract

The easing of legal and unauthorized entry to South Africa has made the country a new destination for Black immigrants. As this population continues to grow, its children have begun to experience South African schools in an array of uniquely challenging ways. For these immigrant youth, forging a sense of identity may be their single greatest challenge. Accordingly, this study asks how do immigrant students construct, negotiate, and represent their identities within the South African schooling context. Findings were multifold in nature.

First, although immigrant students’ ease of assimilation into the chosen reference group was to some degree sanctioned by their phenotypic racial features, their attempt at ‘psychosocial passing’ was politically motivated. Second, immigrant students did not readily classify themselves according to skin pigmentocracy. Third, the majority of immigrant students heightened their ethnic self-awareness in forming their identity, but also assumed hyphenated identities. Fourth, immigrant students were not seen as having an identity, but rather as being ‘plugged into a category with associated characteristics or features’. Fifth, immigrant students forged a ‘continental identity’. And sixth, the selfagency of immigrant students was twofold in nature; not only did they want to improve their own condition, but there seemed to be an inherent drive to improve the human condition of others.

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The Making of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks

Do you find it difficult to understand why the European Central Bank is restricted in its assistance to EU countries which have difficulty borrowing from financial markets? And do you find it interesting to learn what the tools are of the ECB, compared to the Federal Reserve System, and why the monetary part of the Economic and Monetary Union is so much more successful than its economic leg? These questions are answered in the book The Making of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks, which first appeared as a dissertation in 2004. It describes the economic, political and legal discussions behind every article of the statute of the ESCB, which rules its behaviour and which restrict the options for politicians to intervene in the policy of the ECB. After you have read this, you will find it much easier to understand and predict the behaviour of important actors, like the decision-making body of the ECB and politicians, and the tensions between them.

Checks and balances

The phrase ‘checks and balances’ is most known for its use as a description of the American system of government. The essential feature is that the departments (branches) of government are not just separate from each other (i.e. having their own functional jurisdiction and the absence of personal unions), but also exert limited control over each other, to the extent necessary for preventing departments (branches) from assuming authority in areas for which other branches are responsible. This philosophy was based on the experience that especially the legislature if left to itself could expand its powers in the field of the executive and in extreme cases even taking on judicial powers.

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Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art

Makonde

During my efforts to set up dialogues between Western and African philosophies, I have singled out quite a number of subjects on which such dialogues are useful and necessary. Recently I have stated in an essay that three themes in the African way of thought have become especially important for me:
1.1 The basic concept of vital force, differing from the basic concept of being, which is prevalent in Western philosophy;
1.2. The prevailing role of the community, differing from the predominantly individualistic thinking in the West;
1.3. The belief in spirits, differing from the scientific and rationalistic way of thought, which is prevalent in Western philosophy (Kimmerle 2001: 5).

In these fields of philosophical thought there are contributions from African philosophers, which differ in a very characteristic way from Western thinking. Therefore in a dialogue on these themes a special enrichment of Western philosophy is possible. In the following text I want to clarify this possibility by concentrating on two notions, which have a specific meaning in the context of African philosophy. To discuss the notions of ubuntu and communalism means working out some important aspects of the second theme. The community spirit in African theory and practice is philosophically concentrated in notions such as ubuntu and communalism. But the concept of vital force, which is mentioned in the first theme, will play a certain role, too. We find the stem -ntu, which expresses the concept of vital force in many Bantu-languages, also in ubu-ntu. For a more detailed explanation of ubuntu, I will depend mainly on Mogobe B. Ramose’s book, which gives the most comprehensive explanation of the philosophical impact of this notion (Ramose 1999). The concept of communalism is explained in the context of the political philosophy of Leopold S. Senghor and other political leaders of African countries in the struggle for independence (Senghor 1964). A vehement critic of that theory is a Kenyan political scientist, V.G. Simiyu (Simiyu 1987). For a philosophical evaluation of this controversy I will refer to the articles and books of Maurice Tschiamalenga Ntumba, Joseph M. Nyasani, and Kwame Gyekye, dealing with the relation between person and community (Ntumba 1985 and 1988; Nyasani 1989; Gyekye 1989 and 1997).

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