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Unit information: Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject) in 2020/21

Unit name Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37010
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Rob Skinner
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores opposition to systems of racial segregation and apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa. Using a range of sources, including visual sources, personal accounts and literature, the unit addresses the ideological foundations of resistance to white supremacy and the legislative framework that sustained it and relates them to the social and cultural changes wrought by the processes of industrialization and urbanization. It deals with the development of nationalist and pan-African responses to the apartheid ‘project’, and sets these alongside histories of international solidarity movements, cold war rivalries and decolonization. The unit explores themes critical to an understanding of the social, cultural and ideological foundations of anti-apartheid within, and external to, South Africa. Students will examine the ways in which individuals experienced and enacted their opposition to apartheid with reference to local structures of power as well as transnational ideologies, such as liberal humanitarianism, emerging global norms of anti-racism and human rights.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of race and resistance in South Africa
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-3]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-3]

Reading and References

<font  face="Calibri"><font  size="3">Nancy Clark and W. Worger, South Africa: the rise and fall of apartheid (2011). </font></font> <font  face="Calibri"><font  size="3">W.Beinart, Twentieth Century South Africa (2001). </font></font> <font  face="Calibri"><font  size="3">Håkan Thörn, Anti-Apartheid and the Rise of Global Civil Society (2004). </font></font> <font  face="Calibri"><font  size="3">Audie Klotz Norms in international relations: the struggle against apartheid (1995) </font></font> <font  face="Calibri" size="3">Elizabeth M Williams, The politics of race in Britain and South Africa: black British solidarity and the anti-apartheid struggle (2015)</font>