Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Charles Steffen

Second Advisor

Ian Fletcher

Third Advisor

Mohammed H. Ali


This study examines Atlanta’s role in the international anti-apartheid movement during the 1980s. As the movement to end apartheid in South Africa intensified throughout the decade, Atlanta’s universities, government officials, and corporations came under pressure to respond to the mounting crisis. While the anti-apartheid movement was constructed on a global scale, in any given locality a transnational movement must intersect with a variety of unique political, social and economic forces. In Atlanta, grassroots activists worked through the Southern Regional Office of the American Friends Service Committee as well as through the Georgia Coalition for Divestment in Southern Africa to hold institutions accountable for their ties to South Africa. However, at the same time these efforts collided with a local political regime in which African American politicians eagerly partnered with corporate interests, resulting in anti-apartheid activism in Atlanta that was often less confrontational or radical than that found in other U.S. cities. Examining this moment in Atlanta’s history sheds light on the way that diverse groups jockeyed to shape metro-Atlanta’s political identity on both a local and a global scale. Further, examining the overlap, cooperation, and competition between groups with varying organizational scales and focuses contributes to the broader literature on social movements. This dissertation emphasizes the need for scholars of movement building to consider the influence of local dynamics when analyzing transnational social movements.