South Africa

Politics of Race & Racism (Online | Abroad)

Explore the constructions of race, deployment of racist policies in South African history, and their ongoing legacy in the everyday lives of citizens.

At a Glance


3 (+3)


None, but online component is required to enroll in the J-Term.

Courses taught in



Jul 13 ‎– Jul 31

In-Country J-Term (optional)

Dec 28 ‎– Jan 15

Program Base

Online, Cape Town, South Africa

Critical Global Issue of Study

Geopolitics & Power

Geopolitics & Power Icon

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


This course offers three weeks of online study and three weeks abroad.The online course is open to all applicants; the in-person J-term is open to college undergraduates who have completed the online term.

Explore the politics of race and racism in the South African context through engaging with the theoretical and historical constructions of race during colonialism and apartheid as well as the ongoing impact on contemporary social life. Using the intersections of class and gender, space, culture, ethnicity and language, you will examine how these have been politicized and mobilized in order to ensure white supremacy and black oppression and frame the resistance to these systems in the past, and present day contestations. Your online course will foreground academic literature, documentaries, films, local experts, and contemporary opinion pieces to trace the past in the present in a rich, complex, multi-layered and reflective engagement.

In South Africa, you will draw on these resources to make sense of homestays in Langa, the first isi-Xhosa speaking Black township built in South Africa, and Bo-Kaap, where people apartheid classified as ‘Cape Malay’ and ‘coloured’ speaking combinations of English and Afrikaap(n)s are contending with gentrification. Excursions to sites of history, memory, and meaning making such as the Robben Island Museum, Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, and different racialized spaces in the city will be complemented with introductory sessions in Xhosa and Afrikaap(n)s, and an opportunity to explore subjects and sites for a final project.


  • Study race, racial construction, and mobilization, tracing the history and contemporary impacts in South Africa.
  • Translate theory into practice as you engage with South African experts to discuss class readings and activities.
  • Expand on the issues studied in the online course with on-site experiential learning in South Africa. (J-term)
  • Live in homestays with isi-Xhosa speaking black families in Langa and Afrikaap(n)s speaking coloured families in Bo-Kaap. (J-term)


Students are required to complete summer online portion of this program before proceeding to the J-term.

Program Terms

Online Term Details

Your online course will include a combination of documentaries, films, academic articles, and assignments, scaffolded with staff and faculty consultation and reflection. Material will cover early colonizer contact and the raced and spaced dimensions of racial engagement and policies, land dispossession and violence, the imposition of colonial segregationist policies, and their formalization into apartheid legislated policy designed to ensure the continuous supply of cheap black labor for white capital extractive economic activities. You will also explore intersections with issues of space, language, culture, ethnicity, land, and gender and the ongoing impacts on social life in contemporary South Africa.

In Country (J-term) Details

In Cape Town you will experience first-hand the contemporary impact of the history of race and the politics of racism on everyday social life. Excursions will emphasize the politics of memorializing violent and racist histories, the spatial dimensions of ongoing segregation, and contemporary experiences and contestations around race and its intersections with space, class, memory, politics, opportunity, language, and culture. Supplement visits to the Robben Island Museum, Groot Constantia, and the District Six Museum with homestays in Langa, the first Black township built in South Africa, and Bo-Kaap, a Malay enclave in the city, home to people classified as ‘coloured’ under apartheid.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Program Components

  • Online instruction led by the in-country academic director, academic coordinator, and guest lecturers.
  • Weekly live synthesis sessions of online coursework.
  • Field observation and weekly group discussions on politics of race and racism. (J-Term)
  • Excursions to Robben Island, Slave Lodge, and District Six museums. (J-term)

Politics of Race and Racism I (Online)

Politics of Race and Racism II (On-site in Cape Town, South Africa)

Faculty & Staff

South Africa: Politics of Race & Racism (Online | Abroad)

Stewart Chirova, MS, MPS
Tabisa Dyonase
Emma Arogundade, MPhil

Discover the Possibilities


    The online tuition for this program is $960, while the optional in-country term is $ 3,500, including tuition, room & board, health insurance, and more. Financial aid may apply. Contact your study abroad office or SIT Admissions for more information.