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George Roberts

I left Warwick in July 2017, to take up a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. I can be contacted at gr316@cam.ac.uk.

Background

I was educated first in the UK, receiving a BA in History from Cambridge, and then studied for a Masters in European Studies in Warsaw. I then returned to History - and Africa - to write a PhD dissertation on politics, decolonisation, and the Cold War in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I defended my thesis in September 2016, shortly before taking up a teaching fellowship at Warwick, where I taught a first-year module on African History since 1800, and a second-year option on Africa and the Cold War.

Research

I am presently adapting my thesis, entitled 'Politics, decolonisation, and the Cold War in Dar es Salaam, c. 1965-72', for publication as a monograph. It was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supervised by Professor David Anderson and Professor Daniel Branch. As part of my research, I travelled to archives in the UK, United States, France, East and West Germany, Poland, and Portugal, before conducting a series of oral interviews in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

My thesis pushes further a recent shift in the historiography of the Cold War from a Eurocentric focus to a more global approach, which explores the impact of the superpower rivalry in the Third World. In Africa and Asia, the global Cold War intersected with the other metadynamic of the mid-late twentieth century, decolonisation. Cities like Algiers, Cairo, and Saigon became urban spheres of anticolonial dissent and superpower activity. In Tanzania, President Julius Nyerere's provocative foreign policy and commitment to the cause of African liberation turned Dar es Salaam into a similar political entrepot. An array of local politicians, guerrilla leaders, radical intellectuals, diplomats, and foreign correspondents turned Dar es Salaam into a 'Cold War city': on account of the political gossip that engulfed its bars, streetcorners, and newspaper offices, Nyerere dubbed it 'Rumourville'.

My project situates various entangled case studies within this urban sphere: the glacial rivalry between West and East Germany, Tanzania's experience of the 'global 1968', and the activities of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO). These overlapping narratives are nested within a broader history of post-colonial Tanzanian politics, which challenges prevailing nationalist stories that are either tied to the totemic figure of Nyerere or elide high politics altogether. In all instances, I seek to elucidate the role played by often marginalised African actors, who actively shaped the course of the global Cold War and decolonisation.

I am also developing a postdoctoral project entitled 'Abdulrahman Mohammed Babu: the life and death of East Africa's revolutionary left'. This will use the trajectory of Babu, a Zanzibari revolutionary who emerges as a critical figure in my PhD research, as a means of tackling wider questions about modern Africa. In particular, it will seek to address Africa's postcolonial experience from the perspective of an eclipsed Pan-African and Marxist left, mixing local politics with global intellectual shifts.

My broader interests include the history of the global South, international affairs in post-colonial Africa, and contemporary politics in East Africa, especially Tanzania.

Employment
  • 2017-2021 | Junior Research Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
  • 2015-2016 | Teaching Fellow in Modern African History, University of Warwick
Education
  • 2013-2016 | PhD in History, University of Warwick (passed with only typographical corrections)
  • 2012-2013 | MA in European Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Europe, Warsaw
  • 2009-2012 | BA in History, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge (First Class Honours)
Publications
  • 'The assassination of Eduardo Mondlane: FRELIMO, Tanzania, and the politics of exile in Dar es Salaam', Cold War History, 17/1 (2017), 1-19.
  • 'The Uganda-Tanzania War, the fall of Idi Amin, and the failure of African diplomacy, 1978-1979', Journal of Eastern African Studies, 8/4 (November 2014), 692-709. Reprinted in David M. Anderson and Øystein H. Rolandsen (eds), Politics and Violence in Eastern Africa: The Struggles of Emerging States (London: Routledge, 2015).
Select recent conference and seminar papers
  • Breakfast at the New Zahir, lunch at the Canton, sundowners at the New Africa: Dar es Salaam and the urban politics of African liberation, 7th European Conference on African Studies, Basel, June-July 2017
  • Provincialising Brexit: the view from eastern Africa and networked histories of the post-colonial world, New Directions in the History of Imperial and Global Networks Workshop, University of Exeter, June 2017
  • Uganda and the human rights 'revolution' of the 1970s, Emerging Approaches to Uganda Studies Workshop, UCL, London, April 2017
  • Ujamaa na umoja? Revisiting the politics of the Arusha Declaration, The Arusha Declaration@50 Conference, Edinburgh, February 2017
  • Nationalising the transnational: Tanzania, the Cold War, and the global '1968', African Studies Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, December 2016
  • Zanzibar's revolutionary 'exiles' and the Nyerere government in Tanzania, 1964-72, African Studies Association of the UK Biennial Conference, Cambridge, September 2016
  • The inter-German Cold War and the GDR’s search for recognition in Tanzania, 1964-72, Society for the History of American Foreign Relations Annual Conference, San Diego, June 2016
  • A. M. Babu, Tanzanian politics, and the intellectual genealogy of an African Marxist, Socialism in Africa Conference, Paris, and Imperial and Global History Seminar, University of Exeter, both April 2016
  • Dar es Salaam, FRELIMO, and the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane: tour d'horizon of a Cold War city, LSE/GWU/UCSB International Graduate Conference on the Cold War, LSE, London, May 2015 - awarded the Saki Ruth Dockrill Memorial Prize for best paper
Major scholarships
  • 2013-2016 | Arts and Humanities Research Council Scholarship, University of Warwick

  • 2012-2013 | Bronislaw Geremek/European Parliament Scholarship, College of Europe, Warsaw

Travel and research grants
  • SHAFR Global Scholars and Diversity Grant to fund participation at the SHAFR Annual Conference in San Diego (2016)

  • Royal Historical Society Martin Lynn Scholarship to fund research in Dar es Salaam (2015)
  • Hogan Language Fellowhip awarded by the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations to fund language tuitition in Portuguese and Swahili (2015) - a report can be found in Passport, 46/3 (January 2016), 78.
  • German History Society Travel Grant to fund research in Berlin (2015)
  • Moody Research Grant to fund research at the Johnson Presidential Library, Austin, Texas (2014)
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Grant to fund research at the Ford Presidential Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan (2014)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Training Support Grant to fund research in the United States (2014)
  • Society for the Study of French History Research Grant to fund research at the Archives diplomatiques in Nantes and Paris (2014) - a report can be found in French History, 29/2 (June 2015), 274. I have also written about this archive research for the SSFH blog.
Events organised
Public engagement

I have written on contemporary Tanzanian politics for the Exeter Imperial and Global History Forum and about Chinese-Tanzanian solidarities (and their enemies) for the Afro-Asian Visions blog.

I currently serve as the Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Representative for the British International History Group.

In May 2016, I was invited to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to participate in the briefing of the incoming British High Commissioner to Tanzania, where I gave a presentation on contemporary Tanzanian history.

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gr316 at cam dot ac dot uk@g_m_roberts