Becoming a Minority Over 20 years after the transition to a democratic dispensation, South Africa still faces many challenges related to the legacy of Apartheid. As the recent wide-spread student protests at South African universities demonstrate, reforms are still needed in many domains of the education system. Employing a multi-site ethnographic approach, this project studies the post-Apartheid transformation processes at South African universities with a particular focus on student residences. Student residences in South Africa offer a unique opportunity to study a process of wider global significance, namely how historically privileged population segments experience the process of becoming less powerful and less advantaged—and how these experiences shape their use and perception of (politicised) ethnicity. Constituting a central part of local university cultures, these residences are composed of students from an increasingly diverse range of backgrounds. Life in these sharply bounded groups warrants intensive participation: students are immersed in an encompassing life-world in which they practice communal life and political participation in largely self-organized and self-governed ways. Within these ‘tiny publics’, South African society and its manifold social positions and relations are manifested, represented, affirmed, and contested at the same time. It is within these residences that white and particularly white Afrikaans-speaking students experience the process of becoming a minority. Yet, as highly sensitive and contested terrain, these student residences are hard to access and remain largely unstudied. With a particular focus on white students and on how they negotiate forms of belonging and participation, the project aims at analysing how they cope with the associated experiences of precarity and what forms of (politicised) ethnicity structure their perception, self-understanding, and practices. Situated within an interpretive theoretical framework, mainly two qualitative research methodologies will be employed: While in-depth interviews are used to reconstruct and analyse the students’ experiences, perceptions and self-understandings, participant observation and ethnographic interviews will provide a thick ethnographic description of the residences, i.e. of their symbolic, cultural, interactional, and material infrastructure in the context of which belonging and participation are negotiated. The study focusses on two historically white Afrikaans universities. The project is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNFS project data base).