SO/PO 327 - The Narrative of the Rainbow Nation: A Political History of Post-Apartheid South Africa

This course examines the political history of South Africa in the post-apartheid period from 1994 to the present. During this period, South Africa has changed dramatically from the ‘Rainbow Nation’, a country brimming with potential and democratic fervor, to a country struggling to navigate the complex terrain of democracy. After more than two decades, some of the foundational ideas underpinning the post-apartheid present, such as the very idea of the Rainbow Nation, as well as economic empowerment, equality and access to education, are being interrogated—especially by students—in ways that suggest the transition from white-minority rule to democracy was incomplete.

By examining the history of post-apartheid South Africa, this course will equip students to contemplate the ways in which history can be understood in relation to narrative, along with the dynamics of voting patterns, changing demographics and the significance of how national outlook will determine the trajectory of South Africa’s journey into the 21st century. Using a diverse range of sources, the course examines the narrative frame of the Rainbow Nation, and how the history of this frame both does and does not align with the realities of post-apartheid South Africa. While the course surveys the political history of post-apartheid South Africa, it also looks at how that history might be assembled by tracing the development of the idea of Rainbow Nation. The course focuses on the development of different political viewpoints and shifting party allegiances during the post-apartheid period, which are tied to key historical, social and economic contexts in South Africa. Additionally, students will explore these different contexts in Course Related Trips, geared towards facilitating experiential learning that brings to life elements of South Africa’s recent political history.

Course Information


Political Science

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:


Browsing Courses?

To keep track of the courses, programs, blogs, destinations, and news that you're interested in, create an account and start favoriting. Already have an account? Log in.

Create an Account