The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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This is a book of the experiences of violence and well-being of #FeesMustFall student activists from a range of South African universities. It is also a book of the sacrifices that this student generation made for the benefit of many to be able to access higher education. The book tells the students’ experiences through over 100 photos and related narratives that contextualize the photos and explain their meaning and significance.

The collection was brought together by a research method called ‘Rapid Photovoice’. Like the research process overall, the book is a truly collaborative achievement, designed to inform, create awareness, and advocate for greater equity, democracy, and social justice.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 260mm x 260mm
Pages : 224
ISBN 13 : 978-0-7969-2634-0
Publish Year : August 2022
Rights : World Rights



Foreword by Saleem Badat

1. Student wellbeing, to us

2. Violence, wellbeing, and a photobook

3. A history of struggle

4. Oppressive spaces

5. The violence of institutions

6. Conscientise and mobilise

7. Protest and violence

8. Fire

9. Our methodology

10. Gender inside the movement

11. Fear and trauma

12. Outcomes of protests

13. Advocating change

14. Unity and solidarity

15. Wellbeing

16. Escape and safe spaces

17. Movement with a purpose

18. Contributions and conclusions

Afterword by Sharlene Swartz

Appendix: The research participants and their


Photo credits



Thierry M. Luescher is a research director in the Human Sciences Research Council, and an affiliated associate professor at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He has a Ph.D. in Political Studies (University of Cape Town). Thierry is an NRF-rated researcher with expertise in higher education policy, the student experience, student politics, and student affairs in Africa.

Angelina Wilson Fadiji is a senior lecturer in the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She has a PhD in Psychology (Stellenbosch University). Angelina has expertise in positive psychology, the well-being of young people, and positive education in Africa.

Keamogetse G. Morwe is a lecturer at the University of Venda. She has a Ph.D. in Legal and Social Sciences (University of Màlaga) and in Higher Education (University of the Free State). Keamo has expertise in the study of student movements, violent student protests, youth development and counseling.

Antonio Erasmus is a brand manager at the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa. He did a Diploma in Graphic Design (Cape Peninsula University of Technology), and a Management Development Programme (University of Stellenbosch). His extensive experience in design, photography, and videography supports research methodologies such as digital storytelling, photovoice, and poetic inquiry.

Tshireletso Letsoalo is a lecturer at Varsity College, South Africa. She has a master’s degree in Research Psychology (University of Pretoria). Tshireletso’s research interests are in student wellbeing and student academic success.

Seipati Bianca Mokhema works as an associate researcher at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She attained an M.Soc.Sci. in Sociology (NorthWest University) and is an alumnus of Justus-Liebig Universität, Germany. Seipati's research interests lie in youth, education, and leadership for Africans.


“An exceptional book by socially committed scholars that is original, conceptually innovative, and creatively narrated and presented.”

Prof. Saleem Badat, Humanities Institute, The University of KwaZulu-Natal and former vice-chancellor, Rhodes University

“Ethnographically, [this book] is extraordinary. We don’t know enough about the lives of our students. We don’t have enough ethnographies about any of them. [This book] strikes one in the face. It provides a view of the student movement in South Africa which is fresh, grounded and forthright.”

Prof. Crain Soudien, Honorary Professor in the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy, Nelson Mandela University, and former Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council.

“In this book, students tell their stories in grippingly and incontestably authentic narratives and show us images, taken by themselves; their cellphone cameras providing often alarming and shocking visual images of campuses as akin to war zones. I know not of another scholarly work making such effective use of personal thoughts and writing and these same people’s mobile phone images. […] This work, is of such an exceptionally high standard that it can reasonably be expected to garner major book awards, nationally and internationally.”

Anonymous peer reviewer of an earlier version of the manuscript of #FeesMustFall and its Aftermath

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