Projects of Economic Development and Statehood between Empire and Nation: Africa and South Asia, 1945–79

AHA Session 78
Friday, January 5, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Empire Ballroom (Omni Shoreham, Lower Level)
Gerold Krozewski, Osaka University, Japan
Gopalan Balachandran, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
Frank Gerits, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Ichiro Maekawa, Soka University, Tokyo, Japan
Admire Mseba, University of the Free State, South Africa
Tinashe Nyamunda, University of the Free State, South Africa

Session Abstract

The two decades after the Second World War have conventionally been characterized as the period of post-war recovery in the Western world. Official histories and popular accounts emphasized the return to a liberal trajectory of progress abandoned in interwar Europe. Lessons had been learnt from illiberal economic steering entwined with political authoritarianism. After 1945, prosperity ought to flow from a congenial relationship with the world’s new liberal ‘hegemonic’ power, the United States. Hastened by the global Cold War of the 1960s, this self-contained Western vision of development was extended to include (former) European colonies. Sceptics of such views alternatively advocated a post-imperial order of global governance inspired by development economics. Both scenarios in different ways foreshadowed arguments about one-world globalism and views of post-sovereign statehood in the 1990s.

Yet the historical record suggests a more complex dynamics. On the one hand, economic liberalization involved specific assumptions about the ‘non-West’ in development. Liberalization posed substantial difficulties in managing European economies, with repercussions on arguments about imperial relationships in Britain, France, and Portugal. On the other hand, the period witnessed the emergence of geo-economic and geo-political counter-projects. The non-aligned movement explicitly engaged with the legacies of European colonialism and its racially bound categories of modernity in order to redefine economic development and statehood in a new global order. This project transcended national confines in its conception and went beyond a bipolar vision of the Cold War, though the discourse also became a conduit of elite power in new states. Meanwhile, the settler regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia, and the Portuguese colonies, reasserted themselves in the new liberal world by seizing opportunities in transnational economic reorganization.

Contributions to the proposed panel juxtapose topics on the Bandung and non-aligned initiatives with those on imperial and quasi-colonial relationships at the intersection of economic relations and state approaches to development. The former include discussions of India and the Gold Coast/Ghana in the constitution of the non-aligned movement as a transnational development process, its dynamics and tensions, as well as of Britain’s engagement with this process. The latter range from the control rationales in post-imperial currency zones to the racist project of the Rhodesian settler state during the global economic liberalization of the 1960s.

Conceptualizations in terms of the global Cold War, decolonization, and hegemonic constructions of economic change, are in themselves insufficient to account for the complexities of the geo-political, geo-economic, and social transformations of the 1950s and 1960s. Cutting across these delineations provides evidence for the mutual interaction between economic conjunctures, state approaches to development, and the legacies of constructions of race and ethnicity during the period of the transformation from empire to post-empire in the decades after the Second World War.

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