History of Southern Africa


HIAF 3021 is a lecture course on the history of southern Africa, with an emphasis on South Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  we'll begin with a look at the precolonial African societies of the region and then move on to an examination of colonial conquest, life under colonialism, and the rise and fall of apartheid (South Africa's infamous system of racial oppression).  The course ends with the birth of democracy in South Africa that was marked by the election of Nelson Mandela as president.


By the end of the nineteenth century, all of the African peoples of southern Africa had been conquered by European powers and incorporated into Dutch, British, Portuguese, and German colonial empires.  Conquest had not come easily.  Every society in the region resisted European domination, sometimes for many decades before being finally defeated.  Colonialism and, just as importantly, African responses to it dramatically reshaped societies in southern African, transforming political and economic systems, gender and class relations, religion, and even music and sports.


Throughout southern Africa, resistance to colonialism and white supremacy assumed new forms in the twentieth century, as Africans began to bridge ethnic divisions to create multi-ethnic trade unions, churches, political parties, and liberation movements.  Particularly in South Africa, African nationalism was influenced by nonracialism, uniting blacks and progressive whites in the ultimately successful struggle against apartheid.


Course materials include primary sources, such as autobiographies, magazine accounts and photography from the 19th and 20th centuries, and even CIA reports.  We will also read some of the best historical writing about the region.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts