Narrations on intercultural experiences in South African contact zones

Claude Hélène Mayer, Ricardo Makhura, Angela Akii, Tracy Dateling, Patience Dineo, Tasneem Ebrahim, Elaine Jordaan, Katleho Khoza, Charis Mabanya, Apiwe Mpatane, Vurshayna Naidoo, Rumo Paballo, Nadine Sheppard, Shwetha Singaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The study is anchored in Pratt's theory on ‘contact zones’ (CZ) and explores CZs in Gauteng-Province in Post-Apartheid South Africa, where experiences are influenced by highly diverse and hybrid cultural and language backgrounds. This article presents autoethnographic narrations of experiences of South Africans, addressing the void of emic perspectives in CZs in South Africa. Methodologically, the study follows a qualitative research design and is anchored in the social constructivist research paradigm, using 19 narrations of individuals. Four narrations, which mirror the experience of individuals from South African minority groups (Coloured and Indian) are presented in more depth in this article. Findings are analysed through content analysis. Limitations and ethical considerations are highlighted. Findings show the described experiences in CZs with regard to four categories: intercultural conflict, intercultural identity development, intercultural communication and its barriers, and intercultural non-verbal communication. They mirror predominant themes in South African contemporary society with specific focus on CZ experiences of minority group members, present boundaries created through the experience and narration of difference and possible ways to deal constructively with diversity within selected CZs. Conclusions are drawn and recommendations for future theory and practice are given, not only for the South African context, but also for constructive intercultural relations elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Contact zones (CZ)
  • Intercultural communication barriers
  • Intercultural conflict
  • Intercultural identity development
  • Intercultural non-verbal aspects
  • Narrations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Narrations on intercultural experiences in South African contact zones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this