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Africa and the Cold War - Term 2 Week 9

New Dawns? Africa after the Cold War

The end of the Cold War brought about a wave of democratisation across Africa. But it did not bring peace. In Somalia, the state collapsed. The Rwandan genocide triggered a war in Congo which dragged in participants from numerous neighbouring states. Liberia and Sierra Leone both experienced brutal civil wars. Why did these conflicts break out as superpower rivalries fell away? How did thinkers and decision-makers in the United States respond to these wars? As the ‘War on Terror’ now forms the primary lens through which Washington views the continent, what legacies of the Cold War can we identify? Schmidt offers an overview of these wars, but in class we will focus on Prestholdt’s article – a tough, complex piece, but a rewarding one: how does his discussion of political Islam and terror in Mombasa fit in with the themes we’ve encountered over the duration of the course?


1. ‘For Africa, the end of the Cold War has brought a regression into more armed conflict and greater political instability.’ Discuss.

2. Did the end of the Cold War bring about a transformation in the United States’ policy in Africa?

Class readings

*Elizabeth Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 193-227.

Jeremy Prestholdt, 'Superpower Osama: Symbolic Discourse in the Indian Ocean Region after the Cold War', in Christopher J. Lee (ed.), Making a World after Empire: The Bandung Moment and its Political Afterlives (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010), 315-50.

General readings

*Frederick Cooper, Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 191-204.

William R. Ayres, ‘A World Flying Apart? Violent Nationalist Conflict and the End of the Cold War’, Journal of Peace Research, 37 (2000), 105-17.

Lansana Gberie, A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

Marrack Golding, ‘The UN and Conflict in Africa since the Cold War’, African Affairs, 98 (1999), 155-66.

Shaun Gregory, ‘The French Military in Africa – Past and Present’, African Affairs, 99 (2000), 435-48.

William Hale and Eberhard Kienle (eds), After the Cold War: Security and Democracy in Africa and Asia (London: IB Tauris, 1997).

Robert D. Kaplan, ‘The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease Are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet’, The Atlantic (February 1994). []

Zaki Laidi, ‘Rethinking Post-Cold War’, Economic and Political Weekly, 29 (1994), 2067-69.

Richard Ned Lebow, ‘The Long Peace, the End of the Cold War, and the Failure of Realism’, International Organization, 48 (1994), 249-77.

William Reno, Warlord Politics and African States (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998), 45-78, 147-82.

Paul Richards, Fighting for the Rain Forest: Youth and Resources in Sierra Leone (London: International African Institute, 1996).

Paul Richards, ‘Out of the Wilderness? Escaping Robert Kaplan's Dystopia’, Anthropology Today, 15 (1999), 16-18.

Scott Straus, ‘Wars Do End! Changing Patterns of Political Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa’, African Affairs, 111 (2012), 179-201.

Daniel Volman, ‘Africa and the New World Order’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 31 (1993), 1-30.

Lucan Way, ‘Sources of Authoritarian Control after the Cold War: East Africa and the Former Soviet Union’, Post Soviet Affairs, 28 (2012), 424-48.

The United States and Africa after the Cold War

Chris Alden, ‘From Neglect to “Virtual Engagement”: The United States and Its New Paradigm for Africa’, African Affairs, 99 (2000), 355-71.

Perry Anderson, ‘Consilium’, New Left Review, 83 (September-October 2013).

Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century (New York: Scribner, 1993).

Michael Chege, ‘Remembering Africa’, Foreign Affairs, 71 (1991), 146-63.

Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier, America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11: The Misunderstood Years between the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Start of the War on Terror (New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2008).

Francis Fukuyama, ‘The End of History?’, The National Interest (Summer 1989). []

Osman Gbla, ‘Post-Cold War U.S. Foreign Policy toward Liberia and Sierra Leone’, in Alusine Jalloh and Toyin Falola (eds), The United States and West Africa: Interactions and Relations (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008), 355-70 [e-book].

William Pfaff, ‘A New Colonialism? Europe Must Go Back into Africa’, Foreign Affairs, 74 (1995), 2-6.

Conflict in Congo

Gérard Prunier, From Genocide to Continental War: The ‘Congolese’ Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa (London: Hurst, 2009), esp. introduction. [also published as Africa’s World War]

John F. Clark, ‘Explaining Ugandan Intervention in Congo: Evidence and Interpretation’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 39 (2001), 261-87.

Filip Reyntjens, The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996-2006 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) [e-book].

Filip Reyntjens, ‘The Second Congo War: More Than a Remake’, African Affairs, 98 (1999), 241-50.

Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (London: International African Institute, 1999).

Jean-François Bayart, Stephen Ellis, and Béatrice Hibou, The Criminalization of the State in Africa (London: International African Institute, 1999).

Ingrid Samset, ‘Conflict of Interests or Interests in Conflict? Diamonds and War in the DRC’, Review of African Political Economy, 29 (2002), 463-80.