South Africa - IRES 2010

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South Africa IRES 2010


John Silander, Carl Schlichting, Cindi Jones and Kent Holsinger

Meeting time: Wednesdays 4 - 6:30 p.m.

Location: Bamford Room TLS 171B.

Background Information

Science, conservation, and social conflict in South Africa

The University of Connecticut Academic Plan “emphasizes the need to build on our strengths in human rights, education, and environmental research and to prepare our students for work and personal success as participants in an internationalized economy and an increasingly diverse society.” A faculty/student study group focused on the relationships between conservation and human rights in South Africa will serve these needs particularly well. The natural biological communities of the Western Cape region of South Africa are as diverse as those of tropical rainforests, but they face threats from climate change and economic development. The legacy of apartheid has left the equally diverse human society of South Africa with great inequality, which can lead to conflicts between conservation and human rights.

“At Greenmarket Square in the center of [Cape Town], an old man exclaimed: “They are very quick to put out the fire when the mountain is burning, but when our shacks burn you never see them. They care about the birds and the tortoises and the antelopes more than they care about human beings.” Two flower sellers in voluminous Cape Malay robes quickly admonished him, “They’ve got to protect our proteas, old man!”” ( Zakes Mda, “South Africa’s Fire Kingdom”, New York Times, 29 November 2009;

Purpose The study group will explore how efforts to conserve biodiversity in South Africa intersect with efforts to promote human rights and economic development. Its purpose is to introduce students to South Africa as a case study in the intersection of scientific, conservation, and human rights issues. Its conservation focus will be on plants and habitats, reflecting the ecological expertise of the faculty involved. Its human rights focus will focus on the social and political development of South Africa from the Anglo-Boer war at the turn of the 20th century to the present.

Required Reading/Preparation:

You should arrive every week having read what ever information has been starred(*) and linked to the meeting dates below, and be ready to discuss this.

Discussion Schedule

Week of: Topic Information/Readings
20 January Introduction and Logistics plus film: Breaker Morant (*)Overview Pdficon small.gif (*)Breaker Morant Notes Pdficon small.gif

South African History Time-Line Pdficon small.gif Abbreviated Time-Line for European-African conflicts Pdficon small.gif

27 January film: Power of One (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif
3 February film: Cry Freedom (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif
10 February film: Bopha! (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif
17 February film: Red Dust (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif
24 February film: Tsotsi (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif
3 March film: Invictus (*)film notes Pdficon small.gif Some other South African films: Pdficon small.gif
17 March book discussion: 2 novellas by JM Coetzee: Dusklands: The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee and Boyhood: Scenes from a Provincial Life (*)notes Pdficon small.gif
24 March Biomes Geography and History of South Africa (*) notes Pdficon small.gif For PowerPoints shown in class, see email for eDropbox links to download files converted to .pdfs
31 March TBD
7 April TBD
14 April TBD
21 April TBD
28 April TBD

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