Tackling Xenophobia through Dialogue: A Freirean Approach


  • Vaughn Mitchell John Senior Lecturer University of KwaZulu-Natal, EducationPrivate Bag X01 Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 3209, ZA +27332605069




The deadly violence associated with xenophobia has become a concern in South Africa, a country with historically high levels of violence. This article explores the role that peace education can play in mitigating such conflict. Using Paulo Freire’s theorisation of dialogue in education, it discusses a peace education intervention that developed participatory workshops to foster dialogue between South Africans and their neighbours of foreign origin soon after the second wave of violence in South Africa in 2015. The article discusses the curriculum and pedagogical intent of the workshops through a theoretical framing of dialogue, how participants and facilitators responded to such plans and what learning and action were generated from these workshops. The experiences of participants and facilitators reveal a preliminary stage of deepening understandings in terms of reviewing rigid us/them dichotomies and identities, and reviewing stereotypical understandings of causes of conflict. The final section offers some critical reflections on the workshop design and the role of such interventions in relation to goals of broader social change. Some recommendations for future workshops in light of the need for psychosocial support generated by the workshop process are offered.


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How to Cite

John, Vaughn Mitchell. 2020. “Tackling Xenophobia through Dialogue: A Freirean Approach”. Education As Change 24 (November):22 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/1947-9417/6534.



Received 2019-07-04
Accepted 2020-08-18
Published 2020-11-04