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Reading: Language Policies and Decolonization: The Case of #AfrikaansMustFall


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Position Paper

Language Policies and Decolonization: The Case of #AfrikaansMustFall


Antonela Soledad Vaccaro

Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, AR
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Decolonization is a process that should be approached from many disciplines. Language policy and planning should not be neglected when it comes to thinking power relations. In the case of South Africa, language has always played a central role in power struggles. The main dispute was between English and Afrikaans, the colonial languages, while the indigenous languages were systematically marginalized. That is reflected in the languages of instruction chosen by universities. Although after the end of apartheid indigenous languages became official, some universities failed to adjust their language policies and practices in a significant way. Within a context of protests for decolonizing universities, such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall, a linguistic protest arose: #AfrikaansMustFall. Its goal was to end the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in some universities since it acted as a barrier for non-Afrikaans speakers. From the field of language policy, following Tollefson’s (2015) historical structural analysis approach and Woolard’s (1992) concept of language ideology, the purpose of this article is to discuss why protests like #AfrikaansMustFall are central in decolonization processes and how can language policies contribute to decolonizing universities. For that the two sides of the protest, the one that was in favor of revising the policy and the one that was not, will be explored to show the centrality of questioning and working on language policies and ideologies to decolonize universities.
How to Cite: Vaccaro, A.S., 2022. Language Policies and Decolonization: The Case of #AfrikaansMustFall. Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities, 6(1), pp.10–13. DOI:
Published on 01 Jul 2022.


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