Original Research

‘When we are tired we shall rest’: bus boycotts in the United States of America and South Africa and prospects for comparative history

Derek Charles Catsam
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 3, No 1 | a320 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v3i1.320 | © 2007 Derek Charles Catsam | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2016 | Published: 11 April 2007

About the author(s)

Derek Charles Catsam, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, United States

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This article looks at some of the practical, methodological, and disciplinary issues connected to comparative and transnational history through the lens of bus boycotts in South Africa and the United States in the 1950s. Comparative history by its very nature requires historians to transcend both the restrictive boundaries that the profession sometimes imposes as well as a fundamentally interdisciplinary approach to scholarship. Yet as the suggestive comparisons between boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Transvaal in the mid-1950s show, such work can be rewarding in providing a transnational framework for understanding protest movements that transcend national borders. Catsam argues in the end of his article that “a deeper understanding of both [the American and South African] struggles together may well help us better to grasp the significance of each separately.”


protests, boycotts, civil rights, anti-apartheid, Alexandra, Montgomery, Baton Rouge, Martin Luther King, Jr., comparative history, historiography, Witwatersrand


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Crossref Citations

1. A Select Bibliography of South African History: Journal Articles, Review Articles and Theses 2007
Hleziphi Napaai, Mary-Lynn Suttie
South African Historical Journal  vol: 61  issue: 2  first page: 445  year: 2009  
doi: 10.1080/02582470902859716