Get introduced to South Africa’s rich and complex history through courses that are grounded in the experience of living and learning in a dynamic society in transition.
Students often find that by the end of the semester, the combination of academic course work and internships in Cape Town’s diverse communities have enabled them to become participants rather than observers in the new South Africa.


HNRS 350/ANTH 290/WGST 290: Trespassing: Crossing Boundaries in South Africa (3 Credits)

Professor: Dr. Silvia Tomášková, Professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies
Connections: Beyond the North Atlantic, World Before 1750, Global Diversity

Trespassing is an everyday occurrence in most rural areas of South Africa. However, this class will use it as a lens for seeing relationships between land, people, history, and national heritage.  Trespassing as the intentional crossing of boundaries is a useful lens through which to reveal the contested space, the centuries of conflict, truce, and temporary agreements that fester and erupt with unsurprising regularity.  The concept will allow us to hear multiple voices in stories of South Africa, and consider the entangled, uneasy relationships between those who came through the land, those who left, and those who stayed.  We will read about and discuss who gets to cross all kinds of boundaries, be they land based, or racial, class, gender, sexuality and who gets punished for the same act.  From the deep prehistory, the San ancestors and their beautiful rock art, to the various groups that arrived later, we will consider the present as an interconnected web of lines, trespassed by many, including us.  We will make numerous field trips to see the land, the art and the contested spaces in between.

HNRS 353: Contemporary South Africa (3 Credits)

Lecture Series on the History and Politics of South Africa
Connection: Beyond the North Atlantic

This course covers the emergence of the human community in southern Africa, from the earliest times, exploring the notion of the “Cradle of Humankind” as our common source and then tracing the arrivals of peoples in the southern tip of Africa and the complex interaction between peoples of vastly different backgrounds, cultures and worldviews. The course studies the development of Apartheid, its origins and effect on the peoples of South Africa and its slow demise and opposition resulting in the advent of Mandela’s democratic “rainbow Nation”. Students explore this history through reading and through interviews with community members in Cape Town. They look academically at the stories of Apartheid as well as listen to the narratives of South Africans who have lived through the complex and changing political scenes. Site visits to places such as Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 20 of his 27 years in prison complete this part of the course.

The course is based on the principles of ‘experiential learning’ in which students are encouraged to use their own initiative and follow their own selected interests while at the same time, getting to grips with one of the most interesting and dramatic stories of social and political transformation in recent times.

HNRS 357: Internship (6 Credits)

Connection: Experiential Education (EE)