The Role of Indiviudals in History

We’ve spent some time reading and discussing the actions of Nelson Mandela and Ruth First. As you reflect on the recent reading assignments and anticipate the film tomorrow, I invite you to think about questions I’ve been posing in class:

  • Who is authorized to tell stories and make meaning about the past?
  • What are the limits of legitimate opposition to a government?
  • What difference did race and gender make in the treatment of South Africans detained by the police?

Think also about the “critical questions” that shape the course outline, in particular:

What role do individuals play in shaping broad historical processes? Do individual actions influence events, or do events provide the parameters for individual lives? Does your answer to this question change if you consider the biographies of prominent people compared to ordinary people?

1 thought on “The Role of Indiviudals in History

  1. Black South Africans male or female were often beaten severely and forced to sit in jail without medical care or attention. They were isolated from others and treated like animals.
    White South Africans were simply imprisoned but were never abused physically and had the opportunity to see their families through visitation.

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