This course will discuss contemporary use of terms and concepts such as equality, justice, liberalism, and human rights. Through visual, audio, and other representational means, students will identify and critically examine concepts related to systems of oppression (including homophobia, sexism, and racism). Through the class students will analyze how these concepts are created, reinforced, challenged, and altered in cultures around the world. Social and political movement slogans, popular music, speeches, and social media will be used as class material.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Students from the Rhetoric of Social Justice class will meet in the regular classroom to discuss the day's activities. Following the orientation, students and Professor Manning will proceed to Robben Island by ferry. From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island was a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today, it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to the newly democratic South Africa of the price paid for freedom. This former leper colony was used as a political prison starting in 1658 with Autshumato, one of the first activists against colonialism. All prisoners at Robben Island were black, coloured, Indian, or African; they were also all male. Prisoners held on the island included Nelson Mandela, African National Congress leader and former President of South Africa; Gamzo Mandierd, activist; Jeff Masemola, the first prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment in the Apartheid era; Amos Masondo, Mayor of Johannesburg; Michael Matsobane, leader of Young African Religious Movement; Chief Maqoma, former chief who died on the island in 1873; Govan Mbeki, father of former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki; Murphy Morobe, Soweto Uprising student leader; Sayed Adurohman Moturu, the Muslim Iman exiled on the island who died there in 1754; Griffiths Mxenge, a South African lawyer and member of the African National Congress; Billy Nair, former Rivonia Trialist and ANC/SACP leader; and M. D. Naidoo, a South African lawyer and member of the African National Congress. Class participants will view Nelson Mandela's prison cell while ex-political prisoners will give a detailed commentary on life on Robben Island. We will visit the quarry, where Nelson Mandela's eyes were damaged, and where prisoners endured backbreaking labor. Robben Island is a living museum but also the home to approximately 23 mammals and 132 bird species including the African penguin. Questions we will explore throughout the day include: How can the past and current rhetoric about Robben Island be used as way to set the historical context for social justice and freedom movements? What are some impacts of African colonialism and European imperialism as expressed on Robben Island? How can we use historical information about Apartheid in South Africa to explore social justice issues in Africa and elsewhere?