Unfulfilled promise: Radical discourses in south african educational historiography, 1970-2007

Michael Cross, Claude Carpentier, Halima Ait-Mehdi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the discourses and modes of representation embodied in educational historiography from the 1970s to the present and their implications for intellectual identity construction in SA. The paper shows how the theoretical foundations of the liberal and Afrikaner nationalist discourses, which vacillated between race and ethnicity, shifted to social class and gender in radical and neo- Marxist discursive formations of the 1980s. It highlights how the decline of radical scholarship has resulted in a synthesis of constructivist and postmodernist discourses that privilege nation-building, identity and cultural diversity after apartheid within a predominantly neo-liberal paradigm. It argues that the transition to post-apartheid education came to be thought about within a horizon of possibilities different from the rigid paradigmatic tradition of the short-lived neo- Marxist school of the 1970s and 1980s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-503
Number of pages29
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Higher education
  • Historical ideas
  • Historiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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