The United States and Decolonization: Power and Freedom

Springer
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At the international level the twentieth century was characterized by the rise in national self-determination in the Third World and by the rise of US power. This book analyzes the dynamics of the changing relationships between the United States and states seeking decolonization, within the contexts of the US relationship with the European colonial powers, the Cold War, and the economic system. Its scope is broad in both space and time. This collection of articles brings together leading scholars as well as recently qualified authors on a subject that was confined in the Cold War paradigm, but ultimately needs to transcend it.
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About the author

DAVID RYAN lectures in International History and US foreign relations at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is the author of US-Sandinista Diplomatic Relations (1995) and a co-author of The History Atlas of North America, as well as numerous articles on US foreign relations.

VICTOR PUNGONG is Senior Political Officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He has published work on the political and diplomatic aspects of decolonization, including 'The Theoretical Basis and Political Feasibility of the Trusteeship-Peacekeeping Connection' in The Cambridge Review of International Studies, VIII, no.2 (1994).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
May 15, 2000
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Pages
247
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ISBN
9780333977958
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / General
History / World
Political Science / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Ideologies / General
Political Science / World / European
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This content is DRM protected.
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During World War II, African American activists, journalists, and intellectuals forcefully argued that independence movements in Africa and Asia were inextricably linkep to political, economic, and civil rights struggles in the United States. Marshaling evidence from a wide array of international sources, including the black presses of the time, Penny M. Von Eschen offers a vivid portrayal of the African diaspora in its international heyday, from the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress to early cooperation with the United Nations.Race against Empire tells the poignant story of a popular movement and its precipitate decline with the onset of the Cold War. Von Eschen documents the efforts of African-American political leaders, intellectuals, and journalists who forcefully promoted anti-colonial politics and critiqued U.S. foreign policy. The eclipse of anti-colonial politics—which Von Eschen traces through African-American responses to the early Cold War, U.S. government prosecution of black American anti-colonial activists, and State Department initiatives in Africa—marked a change in the very meaning of race and racism in America from historical and international issues to psychological and domestic ones. She concludes that the collision of anti-colonialism with Cold War liberalism illuminates conflicts central to the reshaping of America; the definition of political, economic, and civil rights; and the question of who, in America and across the globe, is to have access to these rights.Exploring the relationship between anticolonial politics, early civil rights activism, and nascent superpower rivalries, Race against Empire offers a fresh perspective both on the emergence of the United States as the dominant global power and on the profound implications of that development for American society.
In 1958, an African-American handyman named Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to die in Alabama for stealing two dollars. Shocking as this sentence was, it was overturned only after intense international attention and the interference of an embarrassed John Foster Dulles. Soon after the United States' segregated military defeated a racist regime in World War II, American racism was a major concern of U.S. allies, a chief Soviet propaganda theme, and an obstacle to American Cold War goals throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each lynching harmed foreign relations, and "the Negro problem" became a central issue in every administration from Truman to Johnson.

In what may be the best analysis of how international relations affected any domestic issue, Mary Dudziak interprets postwar civil rights as a Cold War feature. She argues that the Cold War helped facilitate key social reforms, including desegregation. Civil rights activists gained tremendous advantage as the government sought to polish its international image. But improving the nation's reputation did not always require real change. This focus on image rather than substance--combined with constraints on McCarthy-era political activism and the triumph of law-and-order rhetoric--limited the nature and extent of progress.


Archival information, much of it newly available, supports Dudziak's argument that civil rights was Cold War policy. But the story is also one of people: an African-American veteran of World War II lynched in Georgia; an attorney general flooded by civil rights petitions from abroad; the teenagers who desegregated Little Rock's Central High; African diplomats denied restaurant service; black artists living in Europe and supporting the civil rights movement from overseas; conservative politicians viewing desegregation as a communist plot; and civil rights leaders who saw their struggle eclipsed by Vietnam.


Never before has any scholar so directly connected civil rights and the Cold War. Contributing mightily to our understanding of both, Dudziak advances--in clear and lively prose--a new wave of scholarship that corrects isolationist tendencies in American history by applying an international perspective to domestic affairs.


In her new preface, Dudziak discusses the way the Cold War figures into civil rights history, and details this book's origins, as one question about civil rights could not be answered without broadening her research from domestic to international influences on American history.

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