The death of Elizabeth I in 1601 ended not just a dynasty but also ushered in a new era in British history. Within a decade the rise of the British Empire had started with the British plantation of Ulster in Ireland and significant portions of North America. These events would lead to dynamic changes for both the old and new worlds. This course will attempt to demonstrate the myriad ways in which the empire affected not only those subjected to British hegemony but also the British domestic economy and political life as well. Special attention will be paid to venues on our voyage that have strong legacy ties to the empire, such as Ghana, South Africa, India, Burma, China and the Pacific Rim. What took centuries to assemble seemed to contract and to a large extent crumble over a relatively short period accelerated, of course, by two horrific world wars in which Britain was a major participant. Also critical was the nationalist impulse leading to the anti-colonial struggles that hastened the fall of the empire, sometimes in an evolutionary manner but all too often accompanied by widespread violence.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Date: October 12, 2017
Our class will meet with a local professor/lecturer and undergraduate students (if possible) at the University of Cape Town to learn more about the Boer War and the history of Dutch/English relations in South Africa, followed by lunch. After lunch we will take a trip to the District Six Museum. Both of these are aimed at supplementing, with the input of local experts, the on-board lectures on the decline of the British Empire. It will also allow us to visualize how these very complex racial matters were handled by the British and Dutch up through the 19th and 20th centuries. The focus will be on how race played a crucial role in undermining British control of South Africa.
1. To gain an understanding of South African history from local experts and students.
2. To experience the demise of a mixed-race neighborhood in furtherance of the goals of apartheid.
3. To appreciate how complex racial relations were for all the different communities of South Africa.