4/4: Elizabeth Schmidt on “Foreign Intervention in Africa during the Cold War: The Struggle for the Global South”

Colonialism in Africa collapsed after World War II, opening the door to intervention by Cold War powers that jockeyed to control the decolonization process. The United States wavered between support for its European allies and for moderate African nationalists, whom it hoped would keep radicalism and communism at bay. African nationalists courted, accommodated, and opposed external powers and limited their ability to impose solutions. This presentation explores the tensions that emerged from the dual missions of decolonization and the Cold War. It highlights the ways in which foreign intervention influenced the shape of emerging nations and left a bitter legacy that has endured into the twenty-first century.

Elizabeth Schmidt is professor of history at Loyola University Maryland. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her books include: Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (2013); Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946-1958 (2007); Mobilizing the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea, 1939-1958 (2005); Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939 (1992); and Decoding Corporate Camouflage: U.S. Business Support for Apartheid (1980). Her next book, Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror, will be published by Ohio University Press.

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

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