08.01. Frank Gerits (The Ideological Scramble for Africa: How the Pursuit of Anticolonial Modernity Shaped a Postcolonial Order, 1945-1966)
Global History Colloquium, 08 January 2024, 18h15-19h45 (in person)
FU Berlin, FMI, Room A336, Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin
After 1945 a battle for hearts and minds erupted on the African continent as African nationalists spread their anticolonial modernization project through struggles for independence and at Afro-Asian, pan-African and Non-Aligned conferences. While communists, capitalists and European imperialists claimed that the destruction of tradition and the modernization of African minds were indispensable for progress, liberationists like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, considered the recovery of precolonial culture and the reversal of colonialism’s psychological destruction to be preconditions for effective development.
By correcting European modernity, anticolonial nationalists wanted to make real the promise of the Haitian Revolution. Rather than being forced to choose between East and West, African politicians charted a pan-African route to modernity and created an international system in which the Northern empires of liberty, equality and exploitation were confronted by federations of liberation. When psychological and cultural struggle came up short in material terms anticolonial modernity lost its appeal by the end of the 1960s, setting the stage for an increased involvement of the Cold War superpowers in the 1970s.