South Africa 2019

Spring 2019
Travel dates: March 14-25, 2019
Prof. Anna Jaysane-Darr

street artThis course examines contemporary South Africa and diverse South African communities in historical and cultural context. It is built around a travel component that will include historic sites, museums, local organizations, cooking class, and street art. This course will provide students an opportunity to learn about and experience the beautiful and vibrant city of Cape Town, South Africa, 25 years after the fall of apartheid. Both the campus and travel component will go beyond the exoticizing, tourist view of Cape Town and Africa more broadly, giving students access to contemporary Africa in an immersive way.

Students who participate in this course should be prepared to be highly respectful and responsible during our time in Cape Town.

Course Objectives:

  1. Assess the roles of colonialism, apartheid, ethnic diversity, and socio-economic inequality in South Africa
  2. Explicate cultural, activist, aesthetic, and entrepreneurial components of contemporary South African society
  3. Improve cultural fluency and flexibility
  4. Position experiential learning in relation to classroom learning
  5. Use library and experiential research methods to create a final project

penguins bouldersCost

$2500 (includes airfare, hostel lodging, transport, admission/guides, and some meals)

Payment schedule:

Enrollment: $500
Oct 1: $500
Nov 1: $500
Dec 1: $500
Dec 15: $500


Spring Break Travel:

Explore Apartheid History and Protest

khayelitsha muralApartheid used geographic boundaries and radical displacements (as well as violence, neglect, and economic and educational disenfranchisement) to shore up perceived racial boundaries between groups in an effort to privilege the white minority and foster divisions within potential alliances. To understand this history and the large scale social movements that challenged it, we will take a ferry across to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned. On Robben Island, we will receive a tour from a former inmate and visit Madiba’s cell. We will also visit the Langa Pass Museum, a former “dompas” office, where black South Africans got the passes that enabled them to move outside of their “home areas.” The District Six Museum documents the displacement of thousands of people from their homes in the center of the city when District Six was redesignated as a “white area.” This inspiring museum was community-built and former residents of District Six work and guide there. We will also have an opportunity to meet participants from the struggle against apartheid.

Boulders BeachUnderstand Current Inequalities in South Africa

The legacies of the apartheid state continue to shape urban development, educational access and achievement, and economic opportunities in South Africa. We will learn more about these impacts through the organizations that work on remedying them. This might include health organizations/clinics, children’s programs, food access initiatives, programs for the elderly, and more.

Experience the Natural Environment of the Coast

Table Mountain viewIn addition to history, resilience, and creativity, Cape Town is striking for its natural landscape and coastal fauna. We will take the cableway up to the top of Table Mountain where we can view the city and region from above, examine the unique flora, and say hello to the dassies (small rodent-like mammals most closely related to elephants) that inhabit it. We will drive down the coast to meet the penguins who live on Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town and walk out to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope (keeping  an eye out for baboons!).

Delve into the Creativity and Innovation of Cape Town

Bo KaapCape Town is now an arts hub in South Africa and across the continent. To learn more about this, we will visit the Gugu Sthebe Culture and Art Center in Langa, and look at local projects connecting artists with the community. We will also check out the creative neighborhood of Woodstock, tour the numerous examples of street art, and check out the Saturday Neighbourgoods Market. But we will also think about the impact of gentrification on this neighborhood and its inhabitants. In the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, we will learn more about Cape Malay culture and cuisine through a tour, cooking class, and visiting a famous local spice shop. This neighborhood experience will also offer us an opportunity to think about the history of slavery in Cape Town. In Khayelitsha, we will take an African beading class from a local woman in her home.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Anna Jaysane-Darr
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
North Adams, MA