Course Description

Course Number


Course Name

Hearts of Whiteness/Hearts of Darkness


Course Credits



There is a long tradition in the Western world of viewing Africa as a place of savagery, primitiveness, and violence, and yet Europeans and descendants of Europeans have historically committed numerous acts of violence against African peoples. This class will examine two such instances: the crimes against humanity that took place in what are now the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa. The course will begin with an examination of the brutal Belgian colonization of the Congo in the 1880's, depicted famously in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The second unit of this course will examine South African apartheid, a system of racial segregation that began in 1948 and which was imposed and enforced with massive levels of violence. The course will also examine the resistance to these abuses. Adam Hochshild describes the campaign against Belgian colonialism in the Congo as "the first great international human rights movement of the twentieth century." In terms of resistance to apartheid, we will examine the roles played by Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, the African National Congress, and the international apartheid movement, which successfully mobilized governments around the world to exert pressure on the South African regime.