Teaching Apartheid

Five months later, I think of South Africa often, but nothing took me back to South Africa like this past week.

My 20th Century World History Accelerated (aka honors) students are studying nationalism and decolonization in these weeks before winter break. Mostly, the unit gives them a general narrative thread (in their homework) along with a few case studies (in class). I’d really love a full term on any one of the case studies we have, but this gets them started and exposes them to some history they’ve never thought about.

As a case study, South Africa is an interesting starting point, since it’s not about independence from European power (as they see in India or Congo). Independence from the apartheid regime is certainly key, though, as is nationalism. While apartheid South Africa looks different than many other places we could examine, it’s a powerful case study any way you look at it.

I also think that the story of resistance to apartheid, and the ways in which the South African people have tried to move forward, is one that connects well to recent publicity around police brutality and Black Lives Matter in the US. The story of Hector Pieterson, in particular, connects well to the topic of state intervention against peaceful protests.

In this post, I’ll take you through how I taught apartheid (and the end of it) in South Africa this year in one 90-minute session. Below, I talk about how I revamped the class this year and my goals with the new approach, the way I framed the class, what I’d do differently, and offer the resources that helped me make this class.

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Holiday Quick Hits

We’re taking advantage of the holiday to have a brief break this week, but there are plenty of great posts to read in the Smart Women Write archives while we’re away!

Looking for something to read this holiday season? Bryna’s Post-Ac Reading List isn’t just for those who have left (or are leaving or thinking of leaving) academia behind.

Conference season is also nearly here! If conferencing is in your future – whether you’re presenting, sitting in the audience, job seeking, or hiring – Angela’s Networking Guide is a must-read (and must-share)

Some of us also spend our holidays at the movie theatre. Justice League just came out, so maybe it’s a good time to revisit Tanya’s early summer post Waiting for Wonder Woman.

 

Creative Control

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We cannot teach everything.

I learned this during a world history graduate seminar years ago. I hadn’t thought about the challenges of teaching world history until then, but there it was, staring us all down: what do you teach when you can’t teach everything? How do you decide what stays and what goes?

How do you shape the narrative?

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Autumnal Reveries

I’ve felt restless this month, caught between one thing and another, going here and there, completing work, finding new tasks, never quite feeling done. It is a month of muchness: three days of parent-student-teacher conferences and four consecutive weeks of assessment after assessment to read and mark. October is that time of the school year, when we come into our own as students and teachers, reaching into potential more deeply than we did when the leaves were still green and our minds turned back to summer.

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St. Louis Protests 2017: Resource Round-Up

I’ve been thinking of Mandela’s words a lot in the last few days. It’s a reflection that resonates quite a lotfor me, standing on the sidelines as I watch and listen to news about the protests and often questionable police responses that have been happening daily for more than a week. On Friday, September 15, a judge found Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, an African American man who fled the scene when Stockley and his partner tried to confront him for what they suspected was a drug deal. Stockley shot Smith five times at the end of the ensuing chase.

You can read more about the verdict here, and see the full verdict here. Stockley opted for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial, and in the weeks leading up to the decision, things were tense. The governor even decided to make sure the National Guard was on hand “just in case” when the verdict came down. (Note: I may have missed something, but I don’t think the National Guard has actually been used at any protests.)

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Flirting with Equality, Flirting with Rejections

It’s been awhile, but earlier this year I mentioned my book project in passing – and it turns out I’ve never said much more about it than that. With more than a year of querying and rejections under my belt, I’ve decided it’s time to say a little more.

A year ago, I finished the first round revisions of turning my dissertation into a book. It was a process that took me almost a year, including nights after work, spring break, and most of the summer of 2016, and I’m proud of that work. Dissertations are always just that – a dissertation, never great, but always something that gets you the degree. I’ve known since I finished mine that it could never go forward in the shape it was in.

But time – that’s the factor. I spent several years ignoring the dissertation, then began playing with it again in the fall of 2015. I ripped it apart, tore it into new pieces, made big cuts, restructured it, and even came up with a new title: Flirting with Equality: American Women in the Cold War Military.

It’s a project that I was obsessed with for years in grad school. I visited around a dozen archives, interviewed more than 20 women, and put my heart and soul into it. Flirting with Equality starts with the 1948 Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which made women’s service permanent, and carries through to the end of the Cold War. To understand why women’s military service functions the way it does today – and by extension, policies relating to gay, lesbian, and transgender servicemen and women – my book is a must-read.

Well, at least in theory.

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