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Connected histories of decolonisation workshop

April 17, 2014

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and Centre for European and International Studies Research, University of Portsmouth

Venue: Senate House, University of London

14 November 2014

The recent rise of global history has prompted much reflection amongst imperial historians about the interconnections and cross-influences that existed between and amongst past empires, stretching across vast spatial and chronological frameworks. Taking as its starting point this new trend in historical research, this workshop will explore the connections, entanglements and transnational links between different twentieth century decolonisation processes. In particular, this study day seeks to bring to light the ways in which people, ideas and practices, from both the global North and South, crossed national and colonial borders, and how these connections, in turn, impacted upon on the decline of European colonialism. By going beyond a narrow, nation-state perspective, this workshop aims to break down boundaries in the history of decolonisation, challenging, for example, the divides between the British, French and Portuguese empires, but also, more widely, binaries such as colonial/ post-colonial, metropole/ periphery, coloniser/ colonised.

Suggested areas for exploration include (but are by no means limited to):

·        The participation by European actors in another European power’s colonial empire and how these external interventions both promoted and impeded efforts to decolonise.

·        How the decolonisation of one colonial empire was perceived by other European colonial powers, the indigenous populations of the European colonial empires, and on a wider international scale.

·        Interconnections within the global South with regards to the decolonisation process, not only between those with shared aims, but also amongst those with opposing objectives (for example, between European settlers and African nationalists)

·        Local, national and international responses to the Western rhetoric of decolonisation.

·        The role played in the decolonisation process by international institutions and transnational groupings/ affiliations. 

Proposals for papers (250 words) + a brief CV should be sent to by 13 June 2014.

The following panels are confirmed:

France and the decolonisation of Anglophone Southern Africa

·         Anna Konieczna (Sciences Po, Paris) – France and Southern Africa

·         Roel van der Velde (University of Portsmouth) – France and South Africa

·         Joanna Warson (University of Portsmouth) – France and Rhodesia

Forced labour

·         Romain Tiquet (Humboldt University at Berlin/ForcedLabourAfrica) - Uneasy continuities: the alleged end of forced labour in Casamance (1945-1970)

·         Víctor Fernández Soriano (University of Thessaly, Greece/ForcedLabourAfrica) - The Belgian enigma: reform and stagnation in the Province of Equateur, Belgian Congo (1945-1960)

·         Alexander Keese (Humboldt University at Berlin/ForcedLabourAfrica) - Business as usual: repressive practices, the "vagabond problem", and labour policies in the Middle Congo (1945-1968)