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South Africa: Colonial Histories and Contested Landscapes

JULY 23 - AUGUST 16, 2018

Priority Scholarship Deadline: December 1, 2017

Registration Deadline: February 2, 2018

South Africa is the site of a vast ecological, political, and artistic heritage. It has been prominent in recent years as the host of the most recent World Cup and, more broadly, as a model for multicultural reconciliation after years of colonial conflict and the system of segregation known as Apartheid. South Africa is also located at a major confluence of cultural influences, bridging sub-Saharan Africa, Atlantic Europe, and the Indian Ocean around the famous trade hub the "Cape of Good Hope." It is also home to a vibrant art, music, and literary community that runs the gamut from prehistoric cave painting to ground-breaking documentary photography. Students will take part in a hybrid course that blends sculptural practice, site-specific research, photographic documentation, and intensive reading and discussion. The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of both colonial and post-colonial history while considering the specific location of the Western Cape and its intersections of urban and wild ecosystems. In addition to outdoor exploration-from sea kayaking and hiking to en-plein-aire studio practice-this course emphasizes work in Cape Town and its environs.

Students and faculty will stay at the Villa St. James, just south of Fishhoek. The villa provides ample sleeping quarters, space for outdoor reading groups and studio time, and easy access to transit and the ocean. Hermanus, renowned for its whale watching, and the lush agricultural region of Stellenbosch and its University will complement the more intensive urban setting of Cape Town. By the end of the month, students will have shared an immersive experience that exposes them to several centuries of history, an important facet of the global art market, and unparalleled opportunities for creative development.


Ian Bourland is an art historian and critic who works on issues of globalization, photography, and the art of Africa. Before joining the MICA faculty in 2012, he taught at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has travelled widely in Africa, and previously did fieldwork with contemporary street artists in Cape Town.


  • $6,200 (does not include international airfare). Includes tuition for 3 undergraduate credits in Art History (fulfills Intellectual History second requirement), Interdisciplinary Sculpture, Photography, OR Painting.


Contact program coordinator Ian Bourland at wbourland@mica.edu.

Open to undergraduate and graduate students in all majors-18 years or older with a valid passport-who have completed at least one year of college. For all programs, credits can be applied to Studio Elective. For more information, or to inquire about scholarships, contact the MICA Open Studies at openstudies@mica.edu or 410-225-2219.

This page was last updated on 10/12/2017.