A New Anticolonial Revolutionary Constellation: The Algerian War, the Global 1958, and the Origins of Tricontinentalism

Friday, January 4, 2019: 8:30 AM
Crystal Room (Palmer House Hilton)
Jeffrey James Byrne, University of British Columbia
1958 was a year of revolution and political upheaval connecting the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. It was a pivotal year in the Algerian War of Independence (or the Algerian Revolution). The strains of war ripped apart the constitutional order of the French Fourth Republic. Charles de Gaulle now proposed not only a new constitution for France, but also a new, revised version of empire for France’s numerous African colonies. In response, the leaders of the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) created their own new political structure, a government in exile, and expanded their international diplomatic campaign across the Global South. Propitious revolutionary dynamics in the Arab Middle East encouraged the Algerians to intervene in the multifaceted debates of decolonizing Africa: the FLN’s representatives, including Franz Fanon, made persuasive pleas to reject de Gaulle’s reformed imperialism and to recognize the moral legitimacy of armed, violent resistance to colonialism. When the very close of the year brought Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries to power in Cuba, it added a vital dimension to a new anticolonial revolutionary constellation that connect Baghdad, Cairo, Algiers, Accra, Bamako, Léopoldville (Kinshasha), and Havana. First France, and then the United States would make a concerted, but only partly successful effort to destroy this constellation in the following years. It provided the political and emotional foundations for Tricontinentalism almost a decade later.
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