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African Unit 11

Parallel Histories – A Comparison of United States and South African History

Name: Martin Quirk, PhD

College: Rock Valley College

Discipline: History

Module Title: “Parallel Histories: A Comparison of United States and South African History”

Narrative Description of the Module:

My curriculum module will focus on common themes in the history of southern Africa and the United States across the totality of the histories of both areas. The themes I have chosen to focus on are colonial conquest and resistance, the establishment of government and cultural institutions, industrialization, urbanization, and the establishment of human and civil rights documents and structures. While using history as the supporting and organizing structure, the module will have wide application among all disciplines of the social sciences. For example, the themes of the development of human and civil rights is ideally suited for inclusion in Sociology courses, the themes of government can be included in Political Science courses, and the economic corollaries between the histories of the two areas are applicable to economics courses. The module will be applicable to courses in all social science disciplines.

Educational Objectives of the Module

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Participate in the historian’s craft and use it to reflect on the human condition and the need for local and global engagement
  2. Analyze and synthesize primary sources to produce research projects
  3. Analyze and synthesize secondary sources to produce research projects
  4. Cultivate historical awareness and appreciation of diverse societies and cultures
  5. Analyze the historical significance of key figures, key events, and trends
Detailed outline of main themes (with accompanying content notes) to be included in the Lectures/Discussions Used to Implement the Module
  1. An introduction to the geography and peoples of South Africa
    1. Khoi Khoi
    2. San
    3. Other Bantu speaking peoples.
  2. South Africa before the arrival of Europeans
    1. Societal Structures
    2. Culture (for each of the above)
    3. Economic
    4. Political
    5. Comparison point Native American societies to the established indigenous societies of South Africa.
  3. The Arrival of Europeans
    1. The Portuguese
    2. The Establishment of the Cape Colony by the Dutch East India Co.
      1. The primary role of commercialism in establishing the colony.
      2. The growth and development of the Afrikaner culture and people.
    3. Point of Comparison Jamestown and the Cape Colony.
      1. Relationships with the colonial powers.
      2. Relationships with indigenous peoples.
      3. Agricultural development
      4. Unique culture develops in both
    4. Life in the British Empire. (A comparison.)
      1. Conflicts
      2. Divergent experiences
  4. South Africa and the United States in the 19th Century
    1. Manifest Destiny and the Great Treks
    2. Slavery and abolition
    3. Growth of Industrialization.
    4. The Mineral frontiers
    5. The power of corporations. A comparison of Rockefeller and Rhodes.
    6. Experiments in Imperialism. The Boer War and the Spanish American War.
    7. Effects on Indigenous peoples. A comparison between the Sioux and the Lakota.
  5. South Africa and the United States in the 20th Century
    1. The United States and South Africa in the Great War.
    2. Early attempts at recognition for disadvantaged peoples
    3. The growth of intolerance and exceptionalism in both countries.
    4. The Great Depression
    5. The United States and South Africa in World War II (The effects of mobilization on race relations)
    6. Post War prosperity
    7. Post War race relations
    8. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela a contrast
    9. Containment and the Red Scare
    10. Cultures of protest in both countries
    11. Vietnam and Southwest Africa
    12. The rise of conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s
    13. The 1990s-2000s both countries wrestle with the remnants of racism and white privilege

Student Readings (links to sites where readings can be accessed electronically or by purchase)

  1. Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom
  2. Andre Brink A Dry White Season

Student Evaluation/Testing Regarding the Module

  1. Students will design a power point presentation featuring two events from the shared history of the United States and South Africa and present it to the class.
  2. Students will compare the major trends of two decades of South African and United States History. For example the 1970s. This assignment will be four pages double spaced.
  3. Students will discuss two important figures from the history of both countries. They will compare and contrast their experiences. This can be either in class or through electronic means.
  4. Students will answer essay questions on exams that will involve comparisons of South Africa and the United States.
Resources (Bibliography) Used to Develop-Implement the Module (where feasible provide links to where resources can be accessed electronically)
  1. The Frontier in History: North America and Southern Africa Compared, Howard Lamar and Leonard Thompson
  2. Making of Race and Nation: A comparison of South Africa, the United States and Brazil, Anthony Marx
  3. White Supremacy: A Comparison of American and South African History, George Fredrickson