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Three Views of Modern Africa: Egypt, South Africa, and Zambia  

Three Views of Modern Africa: Egypt, South Africa, and Zambia Chris Smith By examining Egypt and the Arab Spring, assessing the South African “Rainbow Nation” 20 years after the end of apartheid, and exploring how Zambia became a global ne’er-do well, this course will trace the political, economic, and cultural forces that have shaped much of the post-colonial world. By training our lens on three separate countries on one continent, we’ll aim to better understand the political, social, and economic currents that have forged much of our modern world order. Studying Egypt, for instance, allows us to examine the political forces that gave rise to the Arab Spring from Libya to Syria and the legacy of decades of dictatorship. South Africa—diverse, free, and an economic powerhouse--presents us with a relatively optimistic view of where the global south could be headed. Zambia, meanwhile, never makes headlines in the West but is representative of huge swaths of the developing world in both its promise and its struggles. In other words, while we will dig into each country’s particular history, many of the themes we will discuss—of nationalism, self-determination, and great-power politics—resonate from one end of the globe to the other. Week by Week Outline 1. The colonial world - life in the colonies during the imperial age, and the abuses and attitudes that sowed the seeds of revolt. 2. The independence movements - the rise of Egypt’s Nasser and the Pan-Arabist movement, Zambia’s Kaunda and Pan-Africanism, and Mandela’s struggle against apartheid. 3. The 1970s and ‘80s - Cold War politics and proxy wars, military dictatorships and political Islam, and the “Total Onslaught” years in white-run South Africa. 4. Modern Zambia - urbanization and global economics, foreign aid, and China’s inroads into Africa. 5. Egypt and the Arab Spring - the roots of revolution and the complex interplay between the military, civil society, and political Islam in a country with little experience of democracy. 6. Post-apartheid South Africa - truth and reconciliation, black political power, and the country’s next big struggle—for economic equality. Chris A. Smith is an award-winning magazine writer, photographer, and college instructor who has covered human rights and war in the Middle East, poverty and protest in southern Africa, and local and national politics at home. He has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley and has reported from all three countries covered in this course. His website:


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