Professor Nigel Penn, Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town

This course will look at the causes, course and consequences of massacre as an instrument of policy on the frontiers of European expansion, in particular areas of the world during the Revolutionary Period between 1780 and 1820. The case studies will include the French Empire in Europe, the expansion of settler colonialism in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, the Cape Colonial frontier zone and the American frontier zone.



  1. Massacre and the Age of Revolution
  2. France: Revolutionary terror, colonial empire and massacre in Europe
  3. Massacre on the frontiers of the Cape Colony: colonists, Khoisan and Xhosa
  4. Massacre, Aboriginals and settler colonialism in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land
  5. The American frontier and the discourse of extermination


Recommended reading

Dwyer, P. and Ryan, R. 2015. Theatres of Violence: Massacre, Mass Killing and Atrocity Throughout History. New York: Berghahn Books.

Ryan, L. 2012. Tasmanian Aborigines: A History since 1803.  Crow’s Nest, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Mann, B. 2008. George Washington’s War on Native America.  Westport: Praeger.

Penn, N. 2005. The Forgotten Frontier: Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape’s Northern Frontier in the Eighteenth Century.  Cape Town and Athens, Ohio: Double Storey Press and Ohio University Press.




Date: 13–17 January
Time: 3.00 pm  
COURSE FEES: Full R590 Staff & Students R295
Venue: LT3 Kramer Law Building UCT