Spring 2016 - HIST 473W D100

Problems in Southern African History (4)

Gender/Race Col.SA

Class Number: 5422

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 2235, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 231, 348.



An examination of the way in which South African society evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the problem of race relations. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 473W may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Writing.


Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Family in Colonial South Africa

The anti-miscegenation laws of the Apartheid era (1948-1990) were infamous for their restriction of sex and marriage to intra-racial categories, and for the harsh penalties imposed on those, often blacks, who allegedly broke these laws. However such laws, and the desires of those who broke them, have a long history within colonial South Africa (mid-seventeenth-twentieth centuries). Furthermore, the formation of families was informed by local marriage conventions (often female exogamous and patrilocal), raiding and taking of human captives, inheritance patterns, and the construction of power through marriage alliances. In this class we will explore how individuals identified with their sexual desires (and those of others), how families were created (legitimate and otherwise), and how individuals and families performed with/against ideals set out by the government, church, and racial/class/gendered expectations. We will consider the formation of mixed-race communities such as the Griqua and follow their politicization against pressures from the Boer Republics and white mining interests. We will also investigate how historians have constructed histories of sexuality and the family in southern African using texts and oral histories.

This is a reading and research seminar with writing-intensive components. Students will be assessed on class participation (including submission of discussion questions), one book review, and an independent research project (including abstract/ bibliography, class presentation and peer-editing). In addition to the text and novel listed below, students will read primary sources and scholarly articles available through Canvas or the SFU library website. No prior knowledge of or experience with Southern African history is required, just an interest in the subject matter and willingness to learn and contribute to class.


  • Participation and discussion questions 25%
  • Book Review 15%
  • Research Paper: Proposal/bibliography 10%
  • Research Paper: Class presentation 10%
  • Research Paper: Peer-editing/drafting 10%
  • Research Paper: Final paper 30%



Berger, Iris. 2008. South Africa in World History, Oxford University Press.

Mda, Zakes. 2005. Madonna of Excelsior, Picador.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html