A global struggle : Namibian nationalism and South African imperialism at the United Nations, 1945-1960

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2014-05

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“A Global Struggle,” examines the role that diplomacy, particularly at the United Nations, played in Namibian nationalist and South African imperial policy in the decades following the Second World War. My work is based on extensive archival research in Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States. I argue that the creation of the United Nations out of the ashes of the League of Nations gave both Namibians and South Africans hope that they could shape Namibia into what they wanted it to be. Namibians wanted to end the League of Nations Mandate that had allowed South Africa to rule their country since 1920, and the South African government hoped to annex Namibia as the fifth province of the Union of South Africa. Namibian nationalists worked with the United Nations and other nations to prevent South Africa from gaining legal control of Namibia. Representatives of Namibian nationalists as early as 1947 began transforming the United Nations away from an institution concerned with maintaining empires into a burgeoning anti-colonial force that would hasten decolonization. South Africa, facing decreasing support from the United States and Great Britain, desperately tried to reverse the rising tide of anti-colonial sentiment that was building at the United Nations. Both South Africans and Namibians viewed the United Nations as the center of the struggle over the future of Namibia. My project examines the strategies and actions of both groups as they tried to manipulate world opinion in their favor.

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