Grounded in linguistic anthropology, the primary objective of this project is to provide a nuanced ethnographic account of how the sociocultural ambiguity of English as an academic lingua franca is one of its most defining features in the South Africa education system. Although ‘English as a lingua franca’ (ELF) is an established field in applied linguistics, its centre of gravity is Europe and critical issues in the socio-politics of English have been neglected. This monograph responds to this dual research paucity and provides a multidisciplinary project with a focus on how power and ideology affect dynamics of language, race, ethnicity and gender in South African higher education. This work capitalizes on my previous fieldwork and my broad network of scholars in the country. The project aims to 1) shift the geopolitical focus of ELF research by initiating collaborative work between African and European scholars, and 2) show the productive essence of the Theory from the South by providing methodological tools and novel concepts from Africa. The monograph will yield new insights into how the ambiguity of academic English lingua franca discourse in South African higher education is reflected by conflict and consensus, hegemony and marginalization, and a complex range of local, global and glocal identity trajectories.