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Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS)

South Africa and the Global Sixties

  • Alex Lichtenstein
Tuesday 22 May 2018
Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS) year 2017 - 2018
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

How do we understand the place of apartheid South Africa in the politics of the "global sixties"? Although there was plenty of ferment under the surface during the 1960s, a social movement that brought together student radicalism, worker self-activity, and Black liberation politics did not occur until 1973. This talk by Alex Lichtenstein explores the sources and the consequences of South Africa's "Durban Moment" of 1973, when mass strikes and student activism came together at a conjuncture that opened the door to local working-class opposition to apartheid and new forms of global anti-apartheid solidarity.

Alex Lichtenstein

Alex Lichtenstein is Professor of History at Indiana University. He is the Editor of the American Historical Review and the Director of the IU Global Living-Learning Community. His work centers on the intersection of labor history and the struggle for racial justice in societies shaped by white supremacy, particularly the U.S. South (1865-1954) and 20th-century South Africa. His first book, Twice the Work of Free Labor examines the role of convict leasing and chain gangs in the remaking of the American South in the half-century after the Civil War. Subsequently, Lichtenstein has written extensively about race relations in the U.S. labor movement, interracial agrarian radicalism, early civil rights struggles, and the impact of anticommunism on the labor and civil rights movements, in both the U.S. and South Africa.

Lichtenstein has two research projects in the works; one, Trouble in Paradise: Labor Radicalism, Race Relations, and Anticommunism in Florida1940-1960, explores the interplay of the civil rights and labor movements in Florida during the 1940s. The other examines the history of Black workers and industrial relations in twentieth-century South Africa, and is tentatively entitled Making Apartheid Work.


CHIRRS (Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar) brings together historians, area specialists and international relations specialists to address 20th century topics from Brexit to the Muslim world and from French decolonization to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you would like to attend the seminars or to be added to our mailinglist please send an email to chirrs@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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