Race and Ethnic Relations in the Republic of South Africa

and the United States of America


Spring, 2003


Dr. Peter Nayenga                                                        Dr. Robert C. Johnson

History Department                                                      CH 214, 255-4928

SH 273, 255-2003                                                       e-mail:

Email:                                Office Hours:  M/W 2 - 4 PM

(Sign up in advance; other times by  appointment)



            This course examines the nature of race and ethnic relations among groups in South Africa and in the United States in a comparative fashion.  It is designed to promote the understanding of the changing dynamics occurring in both societies as they move from systems of formalized racial oppression to open, racially inclusive nations.


We will study social forces and institutions affecting race relations in the two nations.  We will examine the notions of “race” and “ethnicity” and explore how they are actualized in both countries. Similarities and differences between the two countries in the construction of race and ethnicity, the development and implementation of  social policies, ideologies and sociopolitical systems will be identified.


This course also provides background information and an orientation for students traveling to South Africa as part of the Minds Overseas Program.  It will give students insights into practical matters for visiting and studying in South Africa, especially at the University of Port Elizabeth, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.




1.      Compare United States and South African race and ethnic relations in a contemporary and historic perspective.

2.      Provide students an opportunity to observe directly the societal transformation of a country formerly based on racial oppression.

3.      Familarize students with the University of Port Elizabeth-St. Cloud State Study Abroad and Exchange Program





    I.  Introduction

        A.  Overview of South Africa’s history

B.     Race relations in the U.S. – Past conditions

C.     Race and Ethnicity as social constructs


   II.  Contemporary Matters

A.     Understanding Modern South Africa

B.     Contemporary U.S. Race Relations

C.     Changing notions of  “race” and “ethnicity”


  III.  Education and Travel in South Africa

A.     The UPE-SCSU Study Abroad and Exchange Program

B.     Practicalities of  Studying and Visiting in South Africa


IV.  Toward the Future:  What Direction for Race Relations in South Africa and the United States?



1.  Students are urged to attend classes regularly.  Students missing more than three class periods are likely to have their grade reduced by a letter grade or more.  Every missed class reduces the grade.


2.  All reading and written assignments should be completed on time. Students are expected to be prepared when called upon in class.


    3.  Class participation is strongly encouraged.


    4.  Grades will be based on papers, reports, and other assignments.



Worden, Making of Modern South Africa


 Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (available on the internet, free)


Additional readings will be assigned during the course of the semester.



        This course utilizes a lecture - discussion format.  Speakers and activities sponsored by campus and community groups, as well as media materials will be used as resources for the course.  Guest lecturers may be invited to the class.   Students contribute to the learning process by giving oral reports, and by participating actively.



Course Assignments