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Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen.                             

Topical seminar: South Africa's years of freedom: the past lives on in the future.



Preliminary teaching plan

Lecturer: Hans Erik Stolten



Survey of seminar sessions


Part I. Structural and historiographical entries to South Africa’s development.


Session 1 (Friday 17/9)

Topic: Prologue to and consensus around the seminar.

Teacher presentation: Interests and problems of relevance around the field of study. The role of history and social science in the new South Africa. A quick view at international centres for South African Studies.

Student inputs: Africa experiences, professional interests and skills, students expectations etc.

Material: Proposal for seminar sessions, questionnaire, CD-rom.

Themes of debate: What techniques and methodologies are appropriate for the study of South Africa? Potentials and limitations of electronic sources.


Session 2 (Friday 24/9)

Topic: Long lines and core points in the colonisation of South Africa.

Teacher presentation: Chronological review of facts and events from the landing of van Riebeeck to the formation of the Union of South African in 1910.

Literature: Maylam.

Themes of debate: Counter-factual history imaginations: picturing alternative courses of events. The capacity of aboriginal societies. The nature of the European expansion.


Session 3 (Friday 1/10)

Topic: From segregation to apartheid according to conventional liberal understandings.

Teacher presentation: Apartheid perceived as a consequence of cultural clashes and as a macro-economic dysfunctional mistake.

Literature: Davenport & Saunders.

Themes of debate: Who were responsible for segregation and what caused the expansion of modern racist attitudes? South Africa as a late industrialised country - where did things go wrong?


Session 4 (Friday 8/10)

Topic: The radical revisionist breakthrough in social science: Marxist views of apartheid’s genesis.

Teacher presentation: Apartheid seen as a functional construction for the recruitment of cheap labour and for social control.

Literature: Glaser; Alexander.

Themes of debate: What basic structures were decisive for the actual configuration of apartheid? How important was the ideology of afrikanerdom for white identity creation?


Session 5 (Friday 22/10) (Please note no session 15/10)

Topic: The black resistance movement and the undermining of apartheid.

Teacher presentation: Histories of liberation struggle.                                                                 

Literature: Dubow.

Themes of debate: What were the reasons for apartheid’s final crisis? What relative importance had globalisation, end of cold war, sanctions, and the strategies of the ANC for the dismantling of the regime? The negotiation process and the national compromise.


Part II. The transformation process and the reconstruction of South Africa.


Session 6 (Friday 29/10)

Topic: Preconditions for democracy: living conditions, labour market, and social relations.

Teacher presentation: Overview of poverty and inequality. South Africa’s macro-economic problems.

Literature: Altman; Aliber & Mokoena.

Themes of debate: Social human rights in practice. Relations between organised and unorganised workers. The relative importance of land reforms and urbanisation.


Session 7 (Friday 5/11)                                                                                         

Topic: Preconditions for welfare: strings between economy and politics.

Teacher presentation: Experiences and perspectives of government development plans: RDP and GEAR.

Literature: Maré; Nattrass.

Themes of debate: Inherited ownership structures. How to set priorities during the continued transformation process. Advantages and drawbacks of different models of redistribution. New economy and tourism.


Session 8 (Friday 12/11)

Topic: The process of democratisation: civil society, local government, and party hegemony.

Teacher presentation: The impact of the TRC and the declining role of NGOs under new liberalism.

Literature: Southall; Fullard & Rousseau; Habib; Atkinson.

Themes of debate: Who constitute the forces of change in South Africa and how can social pressure be canalised most constructively? What is the role of the church? How to make decentralisation democratic. How to involve and control elites.


Session 9 (Friday 19/11)                                                                   

Topic: The outside world: the history of international solidarity.

Teacher presentation: The historiography of the Nordic anti-apartheid support and grassroots solidarity: competition and cooperation.

Literature: Morgenstierne; Ribeiro-Kabulu; Suttner; Mabuza.

Themes of debate: Contradictions of politics, trade, and sanctions in western countries. The importance of global social movements. The forgotten anti-imperialism: Eastern Europe and Russia.


Session 10 (Friday 26/11)

Topic: Denmark and the international community during the transformation process.

Teacher presentation: Composition and hidden agendas of the Danish transitional aid.

Literature: Danida publication.

Themes of debate: The role of donors and foreign NGOs. Nordic influence on attitudes and administrative practice. Problems of corruption. What are the effects of investment, trade, and aid?


Session 11 (Friday 3/12)

Topic: The new South Africa’s foreign relations.

Teacher presentation: From darling of the world to partner in global apartheid.

Literature: Schoeman; Daniel, Naidoo & Naidu.

Themes of debate: South Africa’s economic and political influence in the region. Its role in SADC, AU, and New Partnership/NEPAD. The significance of continued migration and brain-drain.


Part III. Education, culture, and ethnicity.


Session 12 (Friday 10/12)

Topic: The transformation process in the educational sectors.

Teacher presentation: Developments in higher education. The role of historians and social scientists in the new South Africa.

Literature: Chrisholm; Jansen.

Themes of debate: The legacy of Bantu basic education. The language question. Relative academic freedom and the role of the intellectuals. What kind of reconstruction could bring real educational equality to the black majority?


Session 13 (Date pending, possibly Friday 17/12)

Topic: The meaning of race in national culture: literature, stage, and media.

Teacher presentation: Two cases: The use of heritage sites and developments in racism of the press.

Literature: Mangcu; Mbali; Amoateng & Richter.

Themes of debate: Post-apartheid fiction. Connections between culture and mentality. The impact of Aids. What tradition means for gender problems, violence, and gangsterism. What happened to the black underground press? Commercialisation of black culture and Americanisation of the entertainment industry.



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