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Africa and the Cold War - Term 1 Week 3

The Cold War dimensions of decolonisation

As African nationalists agitated for independence, Britain and France were forced to confront the task of renegotiating their relationships with their colonies within the context of the Cold War. They juggled a diverse range of interests - geopolitical, business, economic, ideological - in determining their exit strategies. While the decolonisation process was mostly peaceful in the British and French territories, the settler colonies of Algeria and Kenya were split by bloody wars. Decolonisation cannot be explained simply by the ‘pull’ of governments in the metropoles or the ‘push’ of African nationalism. How did the Cold War and the superpowers feature here? Connelly, with reference to North Africa, offers a toolbox for opening up the international and transnational aspects of decolonisation; then use Rice and Thomas to explore the situation in French West Africa. Come prepared to discuss the “National Security Council Report 5719/1” from August 1957 (see document below).

Class/Essay Questions
1. Account for the evolution of US policy in Africa in the 1950s.
2. To what extent was decolonisation in Africa shaped by Cold War politics? Answer with reference to any one region of Africa.
3. What was the impact of the Algerian War on the process of decolonisation in Africa?

Document: The National Security Council Report 5719/1: “Note by the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council on US Policy Toward Africa South of the Sahara Prior to Calendar Year 1960”, Washington , August 23, 1957, available from the Office of the Historian at:  

Class reading

Matthew Connelly, 'Taking off the Cold War Lens: Visions of North-South Conflict during the Algerian War for Independence', American Historical Review, 105 (2000), 739-69.  

Louisa Rice, ‘Cowboys and Communists: Cultural Diplomacy, Decolonization and the Cold War in French West Africa’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 11 (2010), [no pagination].

Martin Thomas, ‘Innocent Abroad? Decolonization and US Engagement with French West Africa, 1945-56’, Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, 36 (2008), 47-73.

Further reading (there is much overlap here with week 3...)

*David Birmingham, The Decolonization of Africa (London: UCL Press, 1995).

David Gibbs, ‘Political Parties and International Relations: The United States and the Decolonization of Sub-Saharan Africa’, International History Review, 17 (1995), 306-27.

*J. D. Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa (London: Longman, 1988).

Evanthis Hatzivassiliou, 'Out-of-Area: NATO Perceptions of the Third World, 1957-1967', Cold War History, 13 (2013), 67-88.

John Kent, ‘United States Reactions to Empire, Colonialism, and Cold War in Black Africa, 1949-57’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 33 (2005), 195-220.

Philip Murphy, ‘Creating a Commonwealth Intelligence Culture: the View from Central Africa, 1945-65’, Intelligence and National Security, 17 (2002), 131-62.

Ritchie Ovendale, 'Macmillan and the Wind of Change in Africa, 1957-1960', Historical Journal, 38 (1995), 455-77.

*Martin Thomas, Flight or Fight: Britain, France, and their Roads from Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) [e-book].

Calder Walton, Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire (Harper Press: London, 2013), 210-86.

Calder Walton and Christopher Andrew, ‘Still the Missing Dimension: British Intelligence and the Historiography of British Decolonisation’, in Patrick Major and Christopher R. Moran (eds), Spooked: Britain, Empire and Intelligence since 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2009), 73-96.

East Africa (see also week 8 on the Zanzibar Revolution)

Jama Mohamed, ‘Imperial Policies and Nationalism in the Decolonization of Somaliland, 1954-60’, English Historical Review, 117 (2002), 1178-1203.

David A. Percox, Britain, Kenya and the Cold War: Imperial Defence, Colonial Security and Decolonisation (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2012).

Daniel Speich, ‘The Kenyan Style of African Socialism: Developmental Knowledge Claims and the Explanatory Limits of the Cold War’, Diplomatic History, 33 (2009), 449-66.

West Africa

*Jeffrey S. Ahlman, “The Algerian Question in Nkrumah's Ghana, 1958–1960: Debating “Violence” and “Nonviolence” in African Decolonization”, Africa Today, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Winter 2010), pp. 66-84

Simon Baynham, ‘Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? The Case of Nkrumah’s National Security Service’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 23 (1985), 87-103.

Tony Chafer, The End of Empire in French West Africa: France's Successful Decolonization? (Oxford: Berg, 2002).

Hakim Ibikunle, ‘Britain and the Foundation of Anti-Communist Policies in Nigeria, 1945-60’, African and Asian Studies, 8 (2009), 47-66.

Ebere Nwaubani, The United States and Decolonization in West Africa, 1950-60 (Rochester, NY: University of New York Press, 2001).

Richard Rathbone, ‘Political Intelligence and Policing in Ghana in the Late 1940s and 1950s’, in David M. Anderson & David Killingray (eds), Policing and Decolonization: Nationalism and the Police, 1917-1965 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).

Mélanie Torrent, Diplomacy and Nation-Building in Africa: Franco-British Relations and Cameroon at the End of Empire (London: IB Tauris, 2012).

North Africa

Miloud Barkaoui, ‘Managing the Colonial Status Quo: Eisenhower’s Cold War and the Algerian War of Independence’, Journal of North African Studies, 17 (2012), 125-41.

*Frédéric Bozo, ‘France, “Gaullism,” and the Cold War’, in Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (eds), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 158-78 [e-book].

Matthew Connelly, 'Rethinking the Cold War and Decolonization: The Grand Strategy of the Algerian War for Independence', International Journal of Middle East Studies, 33 (2001), 221-45.

Matthew Connelly, A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Martin Evans, Algeria: France's Undeclared War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968) [see also the preface by Jean Paul Sartre].

Alastair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-62 (London: Papermac, 1987).

Egya N. Sangmuah, ‘Eisenhower and Containment in North Africa, 1956-1960’, Middle East Journal, 44 (1990), 76-91.

David Stenner, '"Bitterness towards Egypt" – the Moroccan Nationalist Movement, Revolutionary Cairo and the Limits of Anti-Colonial Solidarity', Cold War History, 16 (2016), 159-75.

Martin Thomas, ‘France’s North African Crisis, 1945-55: Cold War and Colonial Imperatives’, History, 92 (2007), 207-34.

Irwin M. Wall, ‘The United States, Algeria, and the Fall of the French Fourth Republic’, Diplomatic History, 18 (1994), 489-511.