Spring 2023

South African History

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-322  |  History, as HIST-283


Sean Redding (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 283 [AF/TE/TS/P] and BLST 322) The transition from white-minority rule in South Africa in 1994 ushered in a new era of independence and democracy in a troubled country whose name had become synonymous with “apartheid.” The last bastion of white-supremacist rule in Africa had fallen. But that transition has not lived up to the high expectations of South Africans as many of the ruling structures built by the colonial and then apartheid regimes have endured. In fact, economic and social inequality has increased in the twenty-seven years since Nelson Mandela was first elected President. Questions about whether South Africans can move beyond the legacy of the past haunt the current population.

Interpretations of South African history have undergone radical shifts as new generations of historians inscribe the past. This course will explore established and emerging themes in the history of this fascinating country. We will cover a broad period from just before the beginning of white settlement in the mid-1600s to the present. The focus will be on understanding how South African populations have confronted and engaged with colonial rule, profound cultural changes, and the development of an oppressively unequal economic system. What are the roots of the current situation, and how do they shape and constrain future possibilities? How do people in contemporary South Africa confront the ideas that have shaped their understanding of their own country as they reconstruct their history?

Spring semester. Professor Redding.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Over the course of the semester, we will: • Analyze the historical construction of social difference in South Africa from the early 1600s to the present, including the precolonial, colonial, apartheid, and independent (post-1994) eras. • Identify how social categories, including class, race, and gender, changed over time and explain how these categories informed the experiences of people living in southern Africa. • Identify different forms of discrimination and assess how structural racism, sexism and classism have evolved and contributed to the development of political, social, and economic inequality. By the end of the semester, students will have: • critically analyzed a range of primary and secondary sources; • engaged in both open and structured discussions with their classmates and professor • written two short papers and eight Moodle posts in response to assigned readings, and • written one 10-page research paper on an individually chosen topic relating to southern Africa

BLST 322 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM CHAP 103
Th 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM CHAP 103

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The South African Reader Duke University Press, 2013 Clifton Crais and Thomas McClendon, eds Amherst Books TBD
The Anatomy of a South African Genocide: The Extermination of the Cape San Peoples Ohio University Press, 2011 Mohammed Adhikari Amherst Books TBD
The Terrorist Album: Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators, and the Security Police Harvard University Press, 2020 Jacob Dlamini Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2025