The Ideological Scramble for Africa: How Decolonisation shaped International Relations 1945-1966

Dr Frank Gerits will join us from Utrecht University to speak about his research on African anticolonial modernisation.

After 1945, a battle for hearts and minds erupted on the African continent. African nationalists spread their anticolonial modernisation 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. This set the stage for an increased involvement of the Cold War superpowers in the 1970s.

About the speaker

Frank Gerits has been an Assistant Professor at Utrecht University since March 2020 and is a Research Fellow at the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

He completed his PhD at the European University Institute in 2014 and has held positions at New York University (2015), the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein South Africa (2016) and the University of Amsterdam (2017).