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Performing a New Model of Active and Activist Citizenship in South Africa

13 May, 2015 @ 3:00 am - 4:30 pm SAST

In this seminar, Dr Chloé Buire will be presenting a paper entitled ‘Performing a New Model of Active and Activist Citizenship in South Africa’.


In 2014, South Africa celebrated its “Twenty Years of Democracy”. Official commemorations emphasized the pride in belonging to the Rainbow Nation, but commentators recalled the fragility of the national myth.  Many of these commentators feared that young people who have not lived under apartheid could endanger democracy because of their unstable and conflicting political identities.  In this context, this paper explores the kind of citizenship promoted in youth policies and curricula, and traces how citizenship has been reframed since the heyday of the democratic transition in the 1990s.  Emerging from this analysis is an “active citizen” whose commitment to social justice is measured against her or his contribution to the national economy.  Nevertheless, interviews with key actors from government and civil society conducted in Cape Town reveal that the definition of a self-sufficient, responsible, and caring citizen is contested, as projects developed to produce young citizens engage with critical thinking as well as with personal economic advancement. While academic education remains seen as the primary tool for building citizenship, many are exploring alternative pedagogies and experimental training to challenge the status-quo of a profoundly unequal society.  The learning process of various actors involved in youth development suggests that South African citizenship is performed through this complex relationship between a model of economically active citizens and a model of politically conscious citizens.

photo idté 2


Chloé completed her PhD in geography at the University of Paris Ouest (France). Her doctoral work examined the practices of urban citizenship in Gugulethu and Heideveld (Cape Town). She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) in 2012 and 2013, where she explored the construction of political identities in Luanda, Angola. Since January 2014, Chloé is a post-doctoral research associate at Durham University (UK). She is currently doing fieldwork in Cape Town for YouCitizen, a research project examining the meaning and experience of citizenship for young people in societies with histories of conflict and division (www.youcitizen.org).


13 May, 2015
3:00 am - 4:30 pm SAST
Event Category:


Rike Sitas




Studio 5
Environmental and Geographical Sciences Building, Upper Campus
Cape Town, South Africa
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