HIST 391

Nelson Mandela and 20th Century South Africa

Nelson Mandela has become an international symbol of South Africa's twentieth-century tragedies and triumphs, and for good reason; his experience touches on many of the major themes in that country's recent history. This course uses Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, as a starting point for exploring the history and historiography of South Africa. Major topics include rural life and the peasant experience, "tribalism" and the significance of tradition, urbanization and industrialization, the development of apartheid and anti-apartheid ideologies, and the implementation of democratic governance. Students consider the benefits and challenges of using autobiographies as historical sources, analyzing Mandela's account in the context of other South Africans' experiences .