Realising the Dream: Unlearning the logic of race in the South African school is an intellectual and practical response to the dangers that come with the ubiquity of race, race-thinking and its attendant propensity to subsume the nuances of all other social complexity.
Beginning with a comprehensive scoping of the theoretical literature on race and social difference, the book delivers a meticulous examination of how the 'logic of race' is played out in the lives of post-apartheid South African school students. Based in two decades of empirical research, this compelling and insightful analysis reveals how the ongoing preoccupation with race not only obscures but also prevents the evolution of new ways of understanding privilege and subordination.
We dream of a better world. The fundamental promise of education, the author argues, is to develop the capacity to make real, in our will and desire, this possibility. However, the dream can be fully realised only when the learnt prejudices and false certainties of race, gender and indeed all our unproblematised conceits about who and what we are, are unlearnt. Written by one of South Africa’s foremost theorists of school education, this book is as brave as it is challenging – an inspiring, essential read for education practitioners and students in particular, and social theorists more broadly.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Professor Crain Soudien is formerly the Director of the School of Education at the University of Cape Town and currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor. He has written over 120 articles, reviews, reports, and book chapters in the areas of social difference, culture, educational policy, comparative education, educational change, public history and popular culture. He is the co-editor of three books on District Six, Cape Town and another on comparative education, the author of The Making of Youth Identity in Contemporary South Africa: Race, Culture and Schooling,and the co-author of Inclusion and Exclusion in South African and Indian Schools. He was educated at the Universities of Cape Town, South Africa and holds a PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is involved in a number of local, national and international social and cultural organisations and is the Chairperson of the District Six Museum Foundation, a Board member of the Cape Town Festival, immediate Past-President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies and was the Chair of a Ministerial Committee on Transformation in Higher Education.
Realising the Dream is a pledge to a transformative agenda. It presents an unflappable belief in the possibility of change that attaches immense value to the premise embedded in the book's subtitle Unlearning the logic of race… Soudien opines, rightly, that as a social construct 'race' is learned and therefore can be unlearned. That is the challenge of our times and a solace to W.E.B. du Bois's famous lament that 'the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line'. Realising the Dream is a must-read. Beyond reading, however, it also requires a commitment to personal transformation.
Mokubung Nkomo, Director of the Centre for Diversity and Social Cohesion, University of Pretoria
A sterling example of scholarship out-of-bounds precisely because it is grounded in lived reality. Crain Soudien enables movement from proscribed to capacious possibilities for personhood, sociality and for knowledge (un)making and sharing. From this place of 'big mind' he writes not only against but through 'race', piercing its countless mutations en route to wide-open anti-racial reasoning. Steeped in history, Soudien's 'new critical sociology' walks with history into a possible future. Realising the Dream will have prize place on the shelves of readers interested in difference as a catalyst for – not a hindrance to – becoming more human. This work is saturated with an ethic of care and quiet defiance. It is both seminal and beautiful.
Zimitri Erasmus, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town and Mandela Mellon Fellow at W.E.B du Bois Institute at Harvard
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