History of Southern Africa


HIAF 3021 is a lecture and discussion course on the history of southern Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with an emphasis on the country of South Africa.

The course is especially concerned with the ways in which people expressed their political beliefs through popular culture.  It begins with a look at the precolonial African societies of the region, before moving on to a study of conquest, colonialism, the rise and fall of apartheid, and the recent rebirth of African independence.

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 fiercely, sometimes for many decades before being finally defeated.  Colonialism and African responses to it dramatically reshaped societies in southern African, transforming political and economic systems, gender and class relations, even religious beliefs.

Resistance to colonialism 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 biographies, memoirs, fiction, music, and film, as well as academic studies.  Students will take periodic quizzes on the readings and write two blue-book exams, a mid-term and a final.

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