Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Africa and the Cold War - Term 1 Week 1

From Berlin to Berlin: the division of Africa, the division of the world

This week’s lecture will provide essential background for the course: the colonisation of Africa and the development of superpower rivalry. Anyone desiring further information should look at the background reading set out with the course outline. Please note that material on colonisation or the early development of the Cold War (i.e., the division of Europe after the Second World War into two rival alliance blocs) will not be examined, either in coursework or the final written examination. Usually, each week’s lecture and seminar will address the same topic: the lecture giving a broad overview and narrative, the seminar digging down into the key debates. However, given the introductory nature of this first substantive week, the reading is somewhat different. Below are a number of journal articles and chapters, which mix historiographical reflections with brief surveys of the Cold War in Africa or the ‘Third World’.

Please select any two of the following readings and extract their core arguments. Don’t get stuck on too much detail – this week is about exploring the scope of the course matter and potential analytical approaches to it. You should be ready to speak about your impressions of the texts you have read in class.

Class/Essay questions

1. What role does African agency play in the history of the Cold War in Africa?

2. How readily does Africa’s experience of the Cold War fit within the conventional periodization of the Cold War?

Class reading (pick any two)

Mark T. Berger, ‘The Real Cold War was Hot: The Global Struggle for the Third World’, Intelligence and National Security, 23 (2008), 112-26.

Jeffrey James Byrne, ‘Africa’s Cold War’, in Robert J. McMahon (ed.), The Cold War in the Third World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 101-23.

John Lewis Gaddis, ‘The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Post-War International System’, International Security, 10 (1986), 99-142.

Mark Kramer, ‘Ideology and the Cold War’, Review of International Studies, 25 (1999), 539-79.

Michael E. Latham, ‘The Cold War and the Third World 1963-1975’, in Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (eds.), Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 258-80 [e-book].

Patrick Major and Rana Mitter, ‘East is East and West is West: Towards a Comparative Socio-cultural History of the Cold War’, Cold War History, 4 (2003), 1-22.

Richard Reid, ‘Horror, Hubris and Humanity: The International Engagement with Africa, 1914-2014’, International Affairs, 90 (2014), 143-65.

Jeremi Suri, 'The Cold War, Decolonization, and Global Social Awakenings: Historical Intersections', Cold War History, 6 (2006), 353-63.

Odd Arne Westad, ‘The New International History of the Cold War’, Diplomatic History, 24 (2000), 551-65.