By Dr. Fabian Klose
Leibniz-Institute of European History
Decolonization is a central historical trend. Occurring in four broad phases from 1776 up to 1991, it has shaped the present-day global system of states through the release of revolutionary forces. The term “decolonization” refers to the process through which colonial rule dissolved, and it encompasses the various political, economic, cultural and social dimensions of this process both in the periphery and in the metropole. For more than 200 years, decolonization has linked the history of Europe with that of the other four continents in significant ways, and it continues to influence the relationship between the European continent and the rest of the world right up to the present.
The future historian may regard as the greatest “revolution” of the twentieth century not Lenin’s overthrow of the short-lived free regime in Russia in November 1917, but the less conspicuous […] and, yet, more far-reaching process which brought Europe’s four hundred years old dominion of the globe to an end (Hans Kohn, October 1958).1
Introduction: Definition, Periodization and Models of Interpretation
As a national economist, Moritz Julius Bonn (1873–1965), who was of Jewish extraction, was among the leading economics experts of Weimar Germany. Bonn participated in the peace negotiations in Versailles as an expert on reparations, and he served as the expert on reparations in the German Chancellery from 1920 to 1922. From 1931, he was the head of the Handelshochschule in Berlin. In 1933, he was removed from all positions by the National Socialists. He succeeded in emigrating to Britain, where he taught at the London School of Economics between 1933 and 1938, and lived until his death with the exception of the years between 1939 and 1946, which he spent in the USA. / Moritz Julius Bonn, black-and-white photograph, date unknown, unknown photographer, image source: Wikimedia Commons
The term “decolonization” refers to the process whereby colonial rule dissolved in the periphery and in the metropole, with its various political, economic, cultural and social dimensions.2 The transfer of national sovereignty rights led to the emergence of new independent states, thereby permanently changing international relations and the global system of states. The German economist Moritz Julius Bonn (1873–1965) is credited with establishing the term as an academic concept. In his entry on “Imperialism” for the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences published in 1932, he explicitly refers to decolonization: “All over the world a period of countercolonization began, and decolonization is rapidly proceeding.”3 This is how Bonn described the beginnings of a trend which demonstrated its full transformative power after the Second World War. In the 30 years after 1945 – a short time period in relative terms – the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa disappeared completely from the global political map and were replaced by new independent states. Consequently, the term “decolonization” is often primarily associated with these developments in Asia and Africa in the second half of the 20th century.4
However, the phenomenon of the dissolution of European colonial rule can also be identified in the history of all the other continents and over a much longer time period. First of all, the colonies of North and South America achieved national independence between 1776 and 1826 in the context of the upheavals of the Atlantic revolutions of the late-18th and early-19th centuries. From 1839 onward, the British settler colonies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa began pressing for greater political autonomy from Great Britain. The Statute of Westminster of 1931 ultimately confirmed the independence of these states. In addition to the classic phase of decolonization from 1914 to 1975 referred to above,5 the disintegration of the Soviet empire in the period from 1985 to 1991 can also be interpreted from the perspective of decolonization, thereby giving a total of four phases of decolonization.
As a revolutionary and a politician, Hồ Chí Minh (1890–1969) fought for the independence of Vietnam. He was the first prime minister (1945–1955) and subsequently also became president (1955–1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). In the summer of 1957, Hồ Chí Minh visited Dresden and spent an afternoon with Vietnamese children in Moritzburg. The Vietnamese were one of the very few immigrant communities in the GDR. From the 1950s, there was cooperation between North Vietnam and the German Democratic Republic, particularly in the area of education, and this cooperation was augmented continuously from 1973 onward. Hồ Chí Minh is in the centre of the photograph, with Otto Buchwitz, a member of the Central Committee of the SED, and Rudi Jahn, the chairman of the Council of the district of Dresden, to the right of him. / Hồ Chí Minh in Moritzburg, black-and-white photograph, 29/07/1957, photographer: Peter Heinz Junge; image source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-48550-0040
The end of conditions of colonial rule is closely connected with the concept of revolution, which refers to a radical break with, and a fundamental and lasting transformation of, the existing political and social order.6 While the second phase of decolonization saw the territories in question gradually separating from the colonial “motherland” over a long period of almost 100 years while retaining the British monarch as their ceremonial head of state, all of the other three phases involved revolutionary processes.7 The resistance of the independence movements fundamentally called into question the colonial order and sought to establish a new order. The leading figures of the anticolonial movement in the 20th century consciously employed the rhetoric of revolution and spoke of the defeat of colonial rule in revolutionary terms. For example, Frantz Fanon (1925–1961) wrote the following in his main work The Wretched of the Earth: “Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is clearly an agenda for total disorder”.8 Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) , the founder and leader of the Viet Minh movement for Vietnamese independence, deliberately sought to portray the declaration of independence of his country from France as standing in the long tradition of the American and French revolutions of the 18th century.9 While the colonizers used terms such as “rebellion” and “insurrection” in their attempts to depict anticolonial resistance directed against them as criminal attempts to overthrow legitimate authority, the anticolonial movement employed the concept of revolution as a “Legitimationstitel”10 (legitimizing title) for their struggle for independence.
What causes and interpretations can be identified for the end of colonial rule? In spite of all the controversial debates about the weighting of individual factors,11 one interpretative model which attempts to combine the various theoretical approaches has emerged increasingly strongly. According to this model, decolonization was the collective result of developments within the ruling metropoles (“metropolitan theory”), of the increasing strength and activity of the independence movements in the periphery (“peripheral theory”), and of certain developments in international politics (“international theory”).12 Thus, the causes for the dissolution of colonial rule are not to be found in one single isolated component alone, but in the interplay between metropolitan, peripheral and international forces.
The Atlantic Revolutions and American Independence (1776–1826)
The first phase of decolonization from 1776 to 1826 brought about the national independence of most of the European colonies in North and South America. It was the result of the “Atlantic revolutions”,13 a veritable wave of interconnected revolutionary events which saw the existing concepts of order on both sides of the Atlantic being shaken to their foundations by mutual transatlantic influence, and which defined the “era of revolutions”.14 The cause of this “transatlantic chain reaction”15 was increasing tension between the European metropoles and the American periphery. Through numerous reforms (the Hanoverian and Bourbon reforms), from the 1760s onwards London and Madrid noticeably strengthened their political and fiscal grip on their American possessions in an attempt to profit more from these possessions and thus to address the growing crises in their state finances.16 The settler populations in the overseas territories viewed these developments as serious interference in their interests, particularly as they increasingly felt that they were not being treated as equal subjects of their monarchs. In spite of the emergence of an “American” identity, the populations overseas continued to view themselves primarily as English and Spanish. Consequently, their resistance was not initially aimed at separating off from their European motherlands. On the contrary, they sought to obtain a commensurate level of political participation in the affairs of the latter. It was only as events progressed that resistance radicalized, and violent campaigns for independence developed. This occurred in the international context of the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). Having been defeated, France was forced to relinquish its colonial possessions in North America and India. At the same time the war had also placed a severe financial burden on Great Britain – which had been victorious – a burden which was a central contributory factor in the financial crisis which triggered the American Revolution.17 The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) , which were a direct military consequence of the expansion of the French Revolution beyond France, were a catalyst for the decolonization of South America.18
The North American Revolution (1775–1783) provided the initial impulse for the first wave of decolonization.19 The Declaration of Independence of July 4 1776 was the decisive step towards the separation of the 13 New England colonies from the British crown and ultimately led to the foundation of the United States of America, which was recognized as an independent state in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. For Great Britain this meant the loss of its North American colonial empire – apart from its Canadian possessions – though London was able to compensate for this by switching its focus to India. Thus, the process of decolonization in the 18th century not only had the effect of bringing an end to colonial rule on one continent, but also of diverting expansionary forces to other regions of the world, resulting in more intensive colonial penetration of the Indian subcontinent.20
François Dominique Toussaint Louverture (1743–1803), who had been born as a slave, led the slave revolt in Saint Domingue in 1791. His political and military ability enabled him to expand his area of power over the years. In order to restrict Toussaint Louverture’s influence, Napoleon sent an expeditionary force to the colony in 1802 and reintroduced the Code Noir, which regulated the contact with and the treatment of black slaves. Toussaint Louverture was captured and imprisoned in Château de Joux in France, where he died in his cell after eight months of imprisonment due to the conditions in which he was held. Today, a bronze bust in the castle in Jura commemorates the Haitian national hero. / François Dominique Toussaint Louverture, bronze bust, Château de Joux, Franche-Comté, France, unknown sculptor, colour photograph, 2011, photographer: Christophe.Finot; image source: Wikimedia Commons
However, the American Revolution also had a direct effect on developments in the European metropoles. Apart from the serious financial consequences and destabilizing political effect of French intervention on the side of the American revolutionaries, the American Revolution also established a strong precedent, of which there were loud echoes in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of August 26 1789.21 The influence of the French Revolution itself was in some respects of global proportions, but it had an immediate effect on the situation in the important French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue,22 which was enormously economically valuable due to its sugar production. As a result of the turmoil unfolding in the colonial motherland, serious internal tensions emerged in the colony regarding the issue of legal equality among the various social strata of the European settler population. From 1791 onward, these tensions resulted in a violent revolt among the black slaves, who represented a majority of the population. Under the leadership of the freed slave Francois-Dominique Touissant Louverture (1743–1803) , the black rebels ultimately succeeded in bringing the whole island under their control and in repelling Spanish, British and French invasions. During the Haitian Revolution (1789–1804), slavery was completely abolished on the island, and on January 1 1804, the independence of the first sovereign black state of Latin America was proclaimed under the indigenous name of Haiti.23
At Ipiranga on September 7 1822, the Portuguese crown prince was given the letters of the Cortes, in which all of his measures were annulled and his ministers were declared to be traitors. On foot of this, he broke with Portugal and effected the final separation of Brazil from Portugal with the cry “Independência ou Morte!”(“independence or death”). This painting by Pedro Américo, which only came into being decades later in Florence in Italy, depicts the prince with his troops at the decisive moment of the “Cry of Ipiranga”. His guard of honour pledges its support; some of the soldiers rip the white-and-blue ribbons, which had symbolized their loyalty to Portugal, from their arms. On December 1 1822, Crown Prince Peter of Portugal became Emperor Peter I of Brazil. / Pedro Américo (1843–1903), Independência ou Morte! (O Grito do Ipiranga), oil on canvas, 41.5 x 76.0 cm, 1888; source: © Museu Paulista, Université de São Paulo.
However, the effects of the French Revolution were not only felt in the Caribbean. They spread to the whole of South America after the Iberian Peninsula became directly involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Due to the French-Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1807, the Portuguese king and the entire political elite fled the country and remained in the Portuguese colony of Brazil for the rest of the war. The temporary transfer of the centre of political power from Europe to the periphery fundamentally changed colonial relationships in the latter, and set a decisive process of emancipation in motion. On September 7 1822, the Portuguese crown prince, who had remained in the colony after the court had returned to Lisbon, declared the independence of Brazil from Portugal in the “Cry of Ipiranga” and had himself crowned Emperor Pedro I (1798–1834) of Brazil in December of the same year.24
Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) led the independence movements in the present-day Latin American states of Venezuela, Columbia, Panamá, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The Republic of Great Columbia which he had founded, split into the states of Ecuador, Venezuela and Columbia after his death. From the 1840s, Bolivar was revered as a national hero. His memory is celebrated most strongly in Latin America, where the state of Bolivia carries the name of the hero and Venezuela officially calls itself the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In addition to a multitude of monuments dedicated to him in South America, such as this one on the Caribbean island of Isla Margarita, statues, busts, street names and parks all over the world are dedicated to the memory of El Libertador (“the liberator”). / Simón Bolívar, bust in Punta de Piedras, Isla Margarita, Venezuela, unknown sculptor, colour photograph, 2012, photographer: Wilfredor, image source: Wikimedia Commons
This animated map (click to animate) shows the progress of the independence movements in South America. In a few short years, Spain lost all of its colonies there with just a few small exceptions.
Red: Royalist reaction
Blue: Under the control of separatists
Dark blue: Spain during the French invasions
Green: Spain during the liberal revolt
Guerra independencia hispanoamericana, 2007, author: Resvoluci; image source: Wikimedia Commons
In contrast to the largely peaceful emancipation of Brazil, the decolonization of Spanish America between 1808 and 1826 involved considerably more conflict and violence. In 1808, the French occupation of Spain and the imprisonment of the Spanish king triggered the complete disintegration of the metropolitan centre of rule. In the context of this power vacuum, provisional committees (Juntas) assumed the power to govern in the various American colonies.25 Though these initially continued to pledge allegiance to the imprisoned Spanish monarch, there were increasingly vociferous calls for greater autonomy and liberal reforms. The ensuing conflict between republican and royalist forces witnessed civil-war-like conditions, which – even after the Spanish monarchy was re-established under the reactionary Ferdinand VII (1784–1833) in 1814 – escalated into a series of extremely violent wars for independence across Spanish America. Under the leadership of important figures such as Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) , José de San Martín (1778–1850) and Bernardo O’Higgins (1778–1842) , the republican movements had succeeded by 1826 in finally casting off Spanish colonial rule, and in establishing independent states throughout the former Spanish colonial empire from Mexico in the north to Chile in the south and the Rio de la Plata region in the east. Thus, Spain lost its entire overseas empire, with the exception of a few small vestiges in the Caribbean and in Asia, thereby becoming the “the imperial demotee of the 19th century” .26
Emilio Aguinaldo (1869–1964) is considered to have been the first president of the Philippines (1899–1901). On three separate occasions he led the Philippine side in the struggle for the independence of the archipelago state: first against Spain in the last phase of the Philippine Revolution (1896–1897), then in the Spanish-American War (1898) and finally against the United States in the Philippine-American War (1899-1901). In 1901, he was captured and went into exile in Guam. He did not return to the Philippines until decades later. This photograph shows Aguinaldo (sitting, third from the right) around 1900 among other supporters of the independence movement. / Emilio Famy Aguinaldo among supporters, black-and-white photograph, around 1900, unknown photographer; image source: National Archives and Records Administration
In view of the violent conflicts and the possibility that Spain might attempt to recolonize South America with the help of its European allies, the young republic of the United States adopted a clear foreign policy position. In his State of the Union Address on December 2 1823, President James Monroe (1785–1831) declared US opposition to all future European colonial endeavours and attempts at intervention on the American continent.27 This anticolonial and antiinterventionist stance, which only came to be referred to as the Monroe Doctrine later in the 19th century, did not, however, prevent the USA from subsequently pursuing expansionary efforts of its own, which were initially directed to the west against the indigenous populations and against Mexico with the annexation of Californian territories. This ultimately culminated in 1898 in the Spanish-American War, which resulted in a Spanish defeat and the loss of the remaining Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Cuba.28 However, the former Spanish colonies did not receive independence, but instead came under the control of the US, as it sought to establish its position as a great power. In the Philippines, the nationalist movement under Emilio Aguinaldo (1869–1964) , which had already fought against Spanish rule during the Philippines Revolution of 1896, offered stiff resistance to the USA, dragging the new colonial masters into a long war (1899–1913).29 The first wave of decolonization ended the direct control of the European metropoles over the American continent, but it transferred control over these territories to the descendants of Europeans settlers, instead of to the original indigenous population. In the case of the United States, it ultimately resulted in the establishment of a new imperial power, which claimed the inheritance of the Spanish empire from Cuba to the Philippines.
The “White” Dominions and the Establishment of “Neo-Europes” (1839–1931)
The second wave of decolonization was not a revolution, but a process which took place over a period of almost exactly a century.30 From 1839 to 1931, the British colonies of white settlement of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, started to press for greater political autonomy from Great Britain and finally became independent states, though constitutionally they retained the link with the British crown. Even more so than the first wave of decolonization, this wave saw the emergence of “Neo-Europes” on three different continents, in which political, social and cultural conditions were similar to those in Europe.31 This development was motivated less by an anticolonial movement than by changes in the attitude of Great Britain itself. By gradually granting self-governance to the dominions, London was pursuing the strategic aim of keeping the colonies of white settlement firmly within the empire, which continued to expand in Africa and Asia, while also sharing the ever-growing costs of maintaining the empire directly with these colonies. The original goal was therefore not the dissolution of the empire, but the consolidation of colonial rule. Britain had learned from the American Revolution that gradual reforms which were advanced by the metropole itself could defuse any radical efforts towards independence that might arise in the periphery, and thereby secure British suzerainty in the long run.
This portrait by Thomas Phillips, member of the Royal Academy, depicts John George Lambton (1792–1840), Earl of Durham (also Lord Durham). Educated at Eton, Durham entered the House of Commons in 1813, before being raised to the peerage and thus entering the House of Lords in 1828. At the time of his appointment as governor general of British North America in 1838, there were serious tensions between the colonial powers of Great Britain and France. Durham resigned just five months after his appointment, but his “Report on the Affairs of British North America” (1839) had a lasting effect. The concept of colonial self-administration under British suzerainty which he described in the report is viewed as having laid the basis for the subsequent development of the British Commonwealth. / Thomas Phillips (1770–1845), John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 71.1 cm, 1819–1820; image source: © National Portrait Gallery, London
Once again, the American continent was the point of departure for this process. In 1837, there were a series of violent revolts in British North America – the Canadian territories which had remained under British rule – against the political establishment there. In the aftermath, London dispatched a commission of inquiry under the leadership of the reforming politician John George Lambton, Earl of Durham (1792–1840) , to investigate the causes.32 In the Report on the Affairs in British North America submitted by the commission in 1839, Durham recommended the introduction of a “responsible government” in the Canadian colonial territories. In accordance with the Westminster model, the report suggested that the territories should receive their own parliament and a cabinet government elected by it, which would administer internal affairs, while external affairs and constitutional matters would remain in the hands of the European metropole. The Durham Report became one of “the most important documents of global constitutional history”33 and it established the framework within which the colonies of white settlement were able to develop into semi-independent dominions.
This contemporary chromolithography shows the battle of Belmont on 23 November 1899 in the Second Boer War, in which British troops took a Boer position, driving their opponents into flight. The composition emphasizes the superiority of the British, by placing three British soldiers in heroic pose and the Union Jack at the centre of the image. / Battle of Belmont. Nov. 23D 1899. Boer-British War, chromolithography, USA, without date (about 1899), unknown artist, publisher: Kurz & Allison, Chicago; source: Library of Congress
However, Durham’s suggestions were only implemented in 1867 with the British North America Act , which brought the Canadian provinces together in the “Dominion of Canada”. Following the Canadian example, the Australian overseas territories, which were originally established as penal colonies, were joined together in a confederation by the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act of July 9 1900. New Zealand and the diminutive Newfoundland followed suit, both receiving dominion status on September 26 1907. In the case of South Africa, this process did not begin until after the bloody conflict of the Second Boer War (1899–1902) , which resulted in the incorporation of the Boer republics into the empire. On May 31 1910, the British colonies joined together in the South African Union .34
The next decisive stage on the road to national independence for the dominions was the First World War (1914–1918). After Great Britain’s entry into the war, the five dominions remained loyal to the British Empire, and fought – in some cases sustaining very high casualties, such as those suffered by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at the Battle of Gallipoli (1915–1916) – to secure victory for the Allies over the Central Powers.35 Participation in the war resulted in an enormous jump towards a self-governing status for the dominions. They were represented by their own delegates at the Versailles Peace Conference – albeit these were officially subordinate to the representatives of Great Britain – and, with the exception of Newfoundland, they each received a seat in the newly founded League of Nations . Additionally, three of the dominions received League of Nations mandate power over former overseas territories of the German Empire – South Africa over German Southwest Africa, Australia over New Guinea and New Zealand over Samoa – thereby becoming colonial masters themselves under the guise of their mandate powers.
With this increased domestic and international confidence, the dominions – which in the aftermath of the bitter struggle for Irish independence (1919–1921) and the subsequent signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 also included the Irish Free State – continued to increase pressure on the imperial centre in London. They sought to resolve their limbo status with regard to foreign policy, and to finally resolve the question of their full national sovereignty. After intensive debates at various imperial conferences, the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee was established in 1926 to examine these issues. It was headed by the former British Prime Minister Lord Balfour (1848–1930) . Its final report, the so-called Balfour Report of November 18 1926, concluded that the dominions were fully equal, autonomous communities within the empire, and that they voluntarily unite as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations in their shared loyalty to the British monarchy. The British parliament confirmed this conclusion in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster , thereby clearing the way for the complete sovereignty of the former white-settler colonies.36
The reforms initiated by Great Britain in the 19th century, which were intended to consolidate colonial rule, ultimately resulted in the 20th century in independent democratic states developing out of the empire. As sovereign states, the former settler colonies adopted to a large degree the political, social and cultural systems of their colonial “motherland”, thereby ultimately establishing “Neo-Europes” on three different continents. This process also involved the complete marginalization of the indigenous population in all areas of life, the consequences of which are still being dealt with today.37 The Apartheid regime from 1948 to 1994 in South Africa was undoubtedly the most serious form of racial discrimination and exclusion.38
The composition of the Commonwealth, which emerged during the second evolutionary phase of decolonization, fundamentally changed after the Second World War. The disintegration of the British Empire which occurred during this period was accompanied by the incorporation of former “non-white” colonies such as India (1947), Pakistan (1947) and Ceylon (1948) into the Commonwealth.39 This change was illustrated among other things by the removal of the adjective “British” in favour of the more neutral title “Commonwealth of Nations” in the London Declaration of April 26 1949. In the subsequent decades, other former overseas territories of the empire joined this loose affiliation of sovereign states. It now comprises a total of 54 member states, including the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the former Belgian colony of Rwanda.
The Anticolonial Revolution and the Dissolution of the European Colonial Empires (1914–1975)
The third phase of decolonization is the one most closely associated with the term “decolonization” in the present and it refers to the end of European colonial rule after 1945.40 The process of the dissolution of the European overseas empires had a profound effect on the international history of the 20th century. This process occurred relatively quickly given that colonial rule had existed in some cases for a number of centuries. For example, Egypt, Ethiopia and Liberia were the only formally independent states on the African continent – if one excludes white-dominated South Africa – in 1945. Only fifteen years later the number of formally independent states had grown to 27. After just 30 years, from 1945 to 1975, all the colonial empires had disappeared from the global map. The end of “European global domination” was thus a “part of the transition to a new order in the global system of states”.41 This transformation proceeded by no means linearly or according to a set pattern. There were considerable differences between the various regions, with cases of peaceful transition as well as extremely violent struggles for emancipation. The colonial policies and strategic aims of the colonial powers and the strength of the respective anticolonial movements were the decisive factors. The Cold War confrontation, the growing importance of international organizations such as the United Nations, and the emergence of a regime of international human rights were central aspects of the international context in which the third phase of decolonization occurred and they had a decisive effect on that process.42
In contrast to the two preceding waves, this third one was “classic decolonization”, with non-European populations rising up against foreign colonial rule and obtaining their political independence. However, autochthonous resistance was not exclusively a phenomenon of the 20th century. It had existed in many forms from the beginning of European expansion and colonial penetration. The numerous colonial wars and rebellions in different time periods in the various regions of the world are clear proof of strong resistance to European domination. These included for example the great rebellion of the indigenous population in Peru from 1780 to 1782, the guerrilla war lead by Emir ‘Abd-al-Qādir (1808–1883) against the French occupation of Algeria from 1835 to 1847, as well as the great Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Maori Wars of 1843 to 1872 against the British settlers in New Zealand.43
However, this anticolonial resistance was not able to fundamentally call into question or bring an end to European colonial rule. The successful Haitian Revolution of 1791 and the victory of the troops of Negus Menelik II (1844–1913) on March 1 1896 in the battle of Adua, by which the Italian invasion of Abyssinia was repelled, were rare exceptions. The technological advantage of the European states in many areas, such as transportation, communication, tropical medicine and – not least – weaponry, proved too big, and meant that the indigenous groups were not able to halt the European advance for any significant period of time.44 However, the perceived global victory of Europe also resulted in increasing criticism of colonial projects in the metropoles.45 In particular, excessive violence and scandals in the overseas territories triggered public debates and campaigns which promoted colonial scepticism. For example, the internment of Boer civilians in British concentration camps during the Second Boer War and the reign of terror of the Belgian king Leopold II (1835–1909) in the Belgian Congo were sharply criticized.46 In addition to this, nationalist anticolonial political movements gradually began to form in the periphery itself, such as the Urabi movement, which was active in Egypt in the period 1879–1882, and in India, the jewel of the British Empire, the Indian National Congress founded in 1885 as well as the All India Muslim League established in 1906.47 These movements took massive encouragement from the victory of Japan in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) , which was the first instance of an Asian country defeating a “white” European country in a modern war. The perceived civilizational superiority of the “West” was dealt its first major blow.48
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) was a member of the Democrats, Governor of New Jersey, and the President of Princeton University. From 1913 to 1921, he was the 28th President of the United States. During the First World War, Wilson initially attempted to keep the USA neutral, but later changed his mind. In 1917, the United States entered the war. Despite Wilson’s efforts, the US senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and, finally, in 1920. For this reason, the US never joined the League of Nations although this organization was essentially Wilson’s project. / Herbert E. French, Armistice Day, 1922 – Woodrow Wilson standing in the doorway of his home, black-and-white photograph, 1922; source: Library of Congress
The new potency of anticolonial efforts in the 20th century resulted from the interplay between growing autochthonous nationalist anticolonial movements and the massive upheavals which occurred during the course of two global wars.49 The First World War was the first decisive break with the past.50 The mass killing of Europeans by Europeans on the battlefields demonstrated the absurdity of the supposed civilizational superiority of the “white man”. African and Asian intellectuals and political leaders deliberately highlighted this fact in order to fundamentally call into question the civilizing mission of Europe, which was repeatedly cited to legitimize colonial rule.51 Similar to the dominions, the large contribution of the colonies to the war effort – a considerable number of Indians and Africans fought on the side of their colonial masters – strengthened the confidence of the autochthonous colonial populations, who subsequently linked their contribution to the Allied victory with calls for concrete political concessions. During the Russian Revolution, V. I. Lenin (1870–1924) raised the topic of the right of nations to self-determination, for example in the Decree on Peace of October 26 1917. Subsequently, US President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) also explicitly addressed the topic in his Fourteen Points declaration of January 8 1918, thereby igniting hopes in the colonies.52 The “Wilsonian Moment” was the initial spark which led to the emergence of a global anticolonial protest movement stretching from Egypt to India, Korea and China.53
Since the 14th and especially in the 15th century the Ottoman Empire had extended to the Balkans and the Crimea. There were many conversions, particularly in parts of Albania and of Bosnia and Herzegovina. / Map showing the extension of the Ottoman Empire, 2003, unknown creator; source: Wunderer, Hartmann: Der Islam und die westliche Welt: Konfrontation, Konkurrenz, Kulturaustausch, Hannover 2003, p. 115, © Bildungshaus Schulbuchverlage Westermann Schroedel Diesterweg Schöningh Winklers GmbH, Braunschweig.
In line with the Treaty of Versailles (articles 45 to 50) the League of Nation was given guardianship over the former colonies of the German Empire and the Arab provinces now separated from Turkey. Parts of French Equatorial Africa, which had been ceded to Germany by France in 1911, were now transferred back to France. The League of Nations established mandates which were to be administered by different governments. Among these mandates were towns like Fiume, respectively Rijeka, which had belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and formerly Ottoman provinces like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Transjordan, Mesopotamia, Thrace and Smyrna. The formerly German provinces included the Territory of the Saar Basin, the Free City of Danzig, the Memel Territory, Cameroon, German South-West Africa, German East Africa, Togo, German New Guinea and German Samoa. / Mandates of the League of Nations, map, 2008, author: Kolomaznik; source: Wikimedia Commons
Even the League of Nations, which emerged from the negotiations in Versailles, formally adopted the principle in Article 22 of its Covenant, which stated that colonial territories must be guided towards independence over the long term. To achieve this, the newly established organization gave the victorious Allies guardianship over the former colonies of the German Empire and the Arab provinces of the dissolved Ottoman Empire . The aim was that these so-called mandated territories would – in accordance with their developmental progress – be eventually granted independence. In reality, however, this meant that the leading colonial powers – Great Britain and France – simply incorporated the territories in question into their imperial territories under the pretext of the League of Nations mandate.54
One of the hundreds of Indian students who studied in England was Mohandas Karamchand (“Mahatma”) Gandhi. This picture was taken towards the end of his stay in Great Britain (1888–1891), where he studied law at the University of London and trained to become a barrister. / Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948), black and white photograph, Great Britain 1891, unknown photographer; source: The Vegetarian, 13 June 1891, Wikimedia Commons
Thus, the result was not the decolonization of the former territories of the Central Powers, but a change of colonial masters. Consequently, in the interwar period “the colonial world [reached] the apogee of its historical expansion”,55 which included the occupation of one the last remaining independent African state (Abyssinia) by Fascist Italy in 1935.56 Parallel to this apogee of European colonial rule, central characters like Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi (1869–1948) in India, Ho Chi Minh in Indochina and Messali Hadj (1898–1974) in Algeria continued to develop the anticolonial nationalist movements. They also received massive support from the Communist camp and increasingly established connections with one another.57 This increasing interconnection and continuing evolution of international anticolonialism manifested itself clearly in the four Pan-African Congresses , which were organized by the American historian and human rights activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963) between 1919 and 1927. The Négritude movement initiated by Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001) and Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) forcefully advocated for the rediscovery of African culture and for political independence for Africa.58
The Battle of Singapore, which was fought between Japanese and Allied forces between January 31 1941 and February 15 1942, ended with the capitulation of the Allies under the leadership of the commander Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival. In the photograph, Percival and his troops are on their way to the formal surrender on the afternoon of February 15. Led by a representative of the Japanese army, they are carrying the Union Jack and a truce flag, which can be identified at the left edge of the photograph. / Lieutenant-General Percival and his party carry the Union Jack on their way to surrender Singapore to the Japanese, black-and-white photograph, 1942, photographer: Desmond Wettern; image source: © IWM (HU 2781), Imperial War Musuem, London
On August 26 1940, Félix Adolphe Éboué (1885–1944) (left) was the first governor of a French colony to support the exile government of Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) (right). The photograph shows the two men greeting each other in Chad. As governor of French Equatorial Africa, Éboué promoted many natives within the colonial administration and initiated numerous reforms. In November 1941, he published a programme for a new model of colonial administration which incorporated African tribal traditions and the native elites, which was implemented before the end of the Second World War. / Charles de Gaulle is welcomed to Chad by Governor Félix Adolphe Éboué of Free French Africa, black-and-white photograph, unknown photographer; image source: with the kind permission of the Library of Congress
The apparent security of European colonial rule on the eve of the Second World War proved illusory. The upheavals of the war of 1939 to 1945 shook the European overseas empires to their foundations. In Southeast Asia, Japanese troops succeeded in occupying almost all of the European colonies between December 1941 and April 1942. On February 15 1942, Japan even managed to capture the enormously important British base at Singapore to the dismay of London. The campaign of conquest of imperial Japan caused irreparable damage to the prestige of European colonial rule.59 The significance of the remaining overseas territories – primarily in Africa – as a source of raw materials and troops for the Allied war effort increased dramatically.60 In the case of France, the central African colonies even served – thanks to the vital support of the black governor Félix Éboué (1885–1944) – as the last refuge of Free France, which was led by General Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) after the defeat in 1940 and the collaboration of the Vichy regime with the Third Reich .61 On the whole, the relationship between the metropoles and the periphery was fundamentally changed by these developments, especially in view of the fact that hundreds of thousands of colonial subjects from India and almost all parts of Africa fought for the Allied cause in almost all theatres of war.
The surprisingly strong loyalty to the European colonial masters was due in part to the fact that the leaders of anticolonial nationalist movements hoped that an Allied victory would result in a liberal postwar climate based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter .62 This declaration of principles issued jointly by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945) and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) on August 12 1941 included – in addition to the goal of improving international economic and social cooperation – the principle of the right of nations to self-determination.63 Such promises were greeted with veritable euphoria in the colonies, and the colonized peoples judged the subsequent reordering of the world by these statements. Thus, immediately after the end of the war, the delegates at the Fifth Pan-African Congress, which met in Manchester from the 15th to the 21st of October 1945, referred directly to these Allied principles and demanded the immediate end of racist colonial rule. Their slogan was “Colonial and Subject Peoples of the World – Unite!”64
However, after the end of the Second World War, the European colonial powers initially showed no interest in relinquishing their colonial empires, since they – particularly Great Britain and France – viewed their empires as giving them equal status with the new super powers of the USA and the Soviet Union. Also, the vast mineral resources of the colonies were urgently needed for the economic regeneration of the metropoles after the destructive war.65 Instead of proceeding with decolonization, the European powers set about recolonizing the territories lost in Asia and intensively exploiting the resources of the African territories, for example by means of a pronounced “development colonialism” and in the form of a “second colonial invasion”.66 However, these plans were met in Asia with veritable waves of revolution from the various nationalist movements, the force of which finally brought about the collapse of European colonial rule.67
As viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten had the task of preparing in short order for India’s independence from Great Britain. Among the first duties of office of Lord and Lady Mountbatten in 1947 were meetings with Mahatma Gandhi (centre), the Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru and the leader of the Muslims Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Soon after Mountbatten took office, tensions between Hindus and Muslims escalated, resulting in serious violence and eventually leading to the partition of India. The new dominion of Pakistan was founded on August 14 1947. One day later, a unified India followed suit, and was declared an independent state. / Viceroy of India: Lord and Lady Mountbatten with Mahatma Gandhi, black-and-white photograph, 1947, photographer: No. 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit; image source: © IWM (IND 5298), Imperial War Musuem, London
First of all, the British had to acknowledge that their position in India (the “jewel of the empire”) was a lost cause . Through the Indian Independence Act of August 15 1947, they left with immediate effect. This involved the division of the subcontinent along religious lines into the states of India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964) , and Pakistan under the founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) . This process featured extreme violence between Hindus and Muslims which resulted in between 200.000 and one million casualties, as well as in a population exchange which was unprecedented in its scale, involving the displacement of over ten million people.68 The British government also folded up the Union Jack in Burma and Ceylon in 1948, though it held on to the colony of Malaya, which was economically very valuable due to its rubber plantations and tin mines, by force up to 1960. The Netherlands failed in its attempt to reclaim Dutch India by violence, and on December 27 1949 the Dutch began their withdrawal from the Indonesian archipelago, due in part to pressure from the United Nations and the USA, which threatened to cancel its assistance to the Netherlands under the Marshall Plan. France, on the other hand, waged a costly war against the Viet Minh from 1945 to 1954 in an attempt to maintain its rule in French Indochina. The Battle of Diên Biên Phu, which occurred between March 13 and May 7 1954 and became the quintessential symbol of the defeat of the “white man”, finally sealed the French withdrawal from South East Asia.69
Their victory over European colonialism made the new Asian states important allies of the territories in Africa which were still under colonial rule and resulted in closer ties between anticolonial forces on the two continents. The conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung on April 18-24 1955, to which Indonesia’s revolutionary icon and first president Ahmed Sukarno (1901–1970) invited delegates from 29 Asian and African state as well as representatives of numerous independence movements, became a key moment.70 In their concluding communiqué , the participants collectively condemned colonialism as a fundamental contravention of the principles of the UN Charter and as a serious infringement against human rights. They demanded an immediate end to the practice of colonial rule and pledged support for the campaign to attain this goal. The Afro-Asia bloc which formed in Bandung and out of which emerged the Non-Aligned Countries in 1961, became the international diplomatic spearhead in the fight against European colonialism and had its greatest effect in the context of the United Nations.
The two largest colonial powers – France and Britain – were also on the retreat in the Middle East, the important continental interface between Africa and Asia.71 Paris and London relinquished their mandate rule over Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, which they had held from the period of the League of Nations, directly after the Second World War. The British withdrawal from Palestine was particularly dramatic, with the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and the subsequent Arab-Israeli War of 1948. The final joint attempt of Britain and France to dominate the fate of the region failed in 1956. During this period, Egypt became the leader of the Pan-Arab movement under President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970) and thus the greatest adversary of the two colonial powers.72 On July 26 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which was of enormous economic and strategic significance and also symbolized British and French power in the region, in an attempt to finally free himself from Western influence. Having first consulted Israel, London and Paris reacted with the military occupation of the Canal Zone on November 5. However, diplomatic pressure from the super powers of USA and the Soviet Union forced them to retreat soon after. The Suez Crisis marked a fundamental turning point which clearly demonstrated the changed reality of global power in the context of the Cold War and clearly signalled the decline of the influence of the colonial powers.73
Due to the destruction of many documents, it is not known how many lives the Mau Mau Uprising claimed. While 63 British soldiers, 33 settlers and more than 1800 native policemen and auxiliary soldiers died, official estimates put the number of casualties among the rebels at 11.500. However, current estimations put the number at somewhere between 20.000 and 100.000. There was also widespread internment. Almost the entire Kikuyu population, which was deemed to be not loyal, was imprisoned in this way. In the photograph, British security forces are searching suspects who have been rounded up near Kanyuki during Operation Scaramouche. / Suspected Mau Mau terrorists being searched by security forces, British Army Operations against the Mau Mau in Kenya, 1952–1956, black-and-white photograph, photographer: British official photographer, image source: © IWM (MAU 865), Imperial War Musuem, London
These signs of the disintegration of European power were not immediately apparent in the African colonies. However, the attempt to further penetrate the region in the context of the “second colonial invasion” was grist for the mill of the anticolonial nationalist movements. In general, the process of decolonization proceeded more slowly in Africa than in Asia, and varied considerably from region to region.74 In West Africa, London and Paris were prepared to implement reforms – due at least in part to the growing financial burden which their colonial endeavours were placing on their national budgets. They gradually transferred political responsibility to autochthonous elites. This resulted, for example, in a largely peaceful transition to independence in Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972) in 1957. However, the situation was completely different in the colonies of “white” settlement in North, Central and East Africa. Here the European settlers insisted on retaining their racially based minority rule, and demanded that the metropoles provide them with military support to deal with growing African resistance. In the British colony of Kenya and French Algeria, which was even officially part of France, two extremely brutal decolonization wars were fought. There were massive resettlements and internments, systematic torture was employed, and grave war crimes were perpetrated against the indigenous populations, with hundreds of thousands of casulties.75
This escalation of colonial violence and the attendant serious violations of human rights resulted in colonialism – particularly with regard to the Algerian War – being increasingly vociferously condemned in the global media and becoming a central topic on the agenda of international politics.76 The Afro-Asian bloc used the United Nations as an anticolonial forum in a very deliberate way, not least because the admittance of former colonies as new members resulted in a significant shift of power within the organization to the advantage of the bloc.77 The wave of new members in 1960 was the apogee of this trend. With 17 African colonies obtaining independence in this year – Belgian rule in the Congo78 also came to an end in this wave – 1960 went down in history as the “year of Africa”. The anticolonial bloc immediately utilized its increased strength in the General Assembly to get UN Resolution 1514 (XV) Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples passed on December 14 1960. In this ground-breaking document, the international community strengthened the right of nations to self-determination, while also condemning colonialism as a fundamental violation of human rights, thereby removing all justification for colonialism.79
In his famous address to the South African parliament on February 3 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (1894–1986) referred to these developments as the “wind of change” . This wind subsequently swept the remaining vestiges of the European colonial empires from the map of the African continent, with three exceptions: the dictatorship in Portugal continued to cling to its overseas empire, and fought the resistance movements in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique with grim determination from 1961 onward. It was the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of April 25 1974 – the causes of which were deeply rooted in the three anachronistic colonial wars – and the subsequent democratic transformation in the metropole which finally brought an end to the rule of the oldest European colonial power on the African continent in 1975.80 The only remaining islands of “white” rule were Rhodesia, which unilaterally separated from London on November 11 1965 under Ian Smith (1919–2007) and managed to survive as a European settler regime through the use of force up to 1979,81 and the South African Apartheid state. In the Cold War conflict, which left bloody traces in Southern Africa in the form of the Angolan Civil War which mutated into a proxy war,82 the racialist regime in Pretoria was viewed by Western governments as an anti-Communist bulwark and a valuable ally.83
The Collapse of the Soviet Empire as a Fourth Phase of Decolonization (1985–1991)
The Soviet Union played a central role in the process of the dissolution of the European colonial empires by providing – in line with the Marxist-Leninist tradition – massive material and moral support to the anticolonial movement worldwide. The USSR sought in this way to gain a decisive advantage over its Cold War rival, the USA, in the newly emerging states in Asia and Africa.84 Paradoxically, the anticolonial super power was itself an imperial entity – perhaps not in the classic sense of the European colonial empires, but in its own specific context.85 Stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific, the “inner empire” was a union of 15 republics with their own borders, which in some cases – such as in the Baltic and the Caucasus – were brought into the union of states by force. The 150 different ethnic groups gathered together in the union were subjected to a deliberate policy of Sovietization , which was intended to establish a common Soviet identity in which the Russian element – with Russian as the lingua franca and Moscow as the centre of power – was dominant. The “outer empire” consisted of the states of East Central Europe which had been occupied by the Red Army during the course of the Second World War and which nominally retained their sovereignty and even became independent members of the United Nations.86 However, Moscow’s powerful military presence guaranteed its direct control over these states, and it employed a new wave of Sovietization in order to keep the social, economic and political system in these states in line with its own socialist principles. The military alliance of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance were institutional manifestations of this bloc formation. Attempts to break out of this bloc prompted the imperial centre to intervene militarily, as it did in 1953 in the GDR, in 1956 in Hungary and in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. Moscow underlined its unrestricted leadership role with the Brezhnev Doctrine of 1968, which stated that Soviet interference in the internal affairs of other socialist states was justified if the socialist community as a whole was threatened.87 The non-European socialist states Cuba, Vietnam and Angola were not directly part of the empire due to the lack of direct access to them, but as allies they formed a kind of “third ring” of the Soviet sphere of power.88
Mikhail Gorbachev (*1931) was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985. At the 27th Party Congress in February 1986, Gorbachev began the political implementation of the concepts of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring). As General Secretary, he also ordered the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and admitted past political mistakes of the party and crimes committed during the Second World War. This photograph of him was taken at the press conference after the Soviet-American Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986. The meeting prepared the way for the so-called INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaties, which were signed in December 1987 and enabled the dismantling of atomic intermediate-range missiles in Europe. / Mikhail Gorbachev (*1931) speaks at the press conference after the Soviet-American Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1986, colour photograph, 19/10/1986, photographer: Yuryi Abramochkin; image source: RIA Novosti archive
The decolonization of the Soviet empire occurred completely unexpectedly. It occurred between 1985 and 1991 at a very fast pace and not only fundamentally transformed the situation in the periphery, but also brought down the metropole itself due to the close connection between the “outer” and “inner” empire.89 The process was triggered by Mikhail Gorbachev (*1931) , who was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party on March 11 1985, thereby becoming the new strong man at the centre of power in Moscow. He reacted to the desperate economic circumstances in the Soviet Union, which were not least a result of the extremely high military expenditure resulting from the Cold War arms race, with large “reforms from above”. He did not intend that these reforms would dissolve the Soviet empire. Rather, he wished to consolidate it and point it in a new direction.90 In terms of domestic politics, the intention was to fundamentally restructure the economic system and to democratize the political system, as reflected by the two catchwords “Perestroika” (restructuring) and “Glasnost” (openness). In the area of foreign policy, Gorbachev’s policy of “new thinking” aimed at a rapprochement with the West and peaceful coexistence in a shared “European house”. To this end, he reopened direct negotiations with the USA on armaments reduction, announced a unilateral reduction of the number of Soviet troops in the Eastern Bloc states, and brought an end to the bloody Afghanistan War, which had begun in 1979, by completely withdrawing the Red Army.91
This change of direction in foreign policy brought about a fundamental change in the relationship between the Soviet Union and its satellite states of the “outer” empire. Gorbachev now granted these states the free and independent choice of their own political and social system without any form of interference from Moscow in their internal affairs (Sinatra Doctrine), which constituted a radical break with the previous foreign policy dogma of the Brezhnev Doctrine. With the withdrawal of its “imperial watchman” (the Red Army) from 1988 onward, Moscow increasingly relinquished direct control over the states in Eastern Central Europe, thereby releasing them into complete independence.92 Without military support from Moscow, the pro-Soviet regimes in these countries could no longer suppress the movements for democracy, as they had done for a long time. In the revolutionary year of 1989, the old regimes collapsed in a veritable chain reaction. It began with Poland and then Hungary, which was the first state to cut through the Iron Curtain, followed by the peaceful revolution in the GDR and the highly symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9 1989. By the end of the year, the Communist regimes had also fallen in Czechoslovakia (“Velvet Revolution”), in Bulgaria, and – after a violent overthrow – in Romania also.93 The institutional manifestations of the “outer” empire disappeared in 1991 with the dissolution of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The imperial retreat outside the Soviet Union also undermined central power within the Soviet Union, which was already weakened. The nationalities question which had raised its head during the course of the reforms then ignited in a veritable “explosion of ethnicity”94 and resulted in bloody confrontations, such as between Armenia and Azerbaijan.95 In particular, the Baltic republics and the republics in the Caucasus , which had been brought into the union by force, became nationalist flashpoints and ignited a conflagration. Revolutionary forces developed here which openly campaigned for secession from the union and demanded independence from Moscow. Lithuania led the way, declaring national independence on March 11 1990, followed by Latvia (May 4 1990) and finally Estonia (May 8 1990). Neither limited Soviet military interventions in Tiflis, Baku and Vilnius nor an attempted putsch against Gorbachev by the old Soviet cadres in the summer of 1991 were able to stop this process. After the largest Soviet republic (the Russian Republic) under its president Boris Yeltsin (1931–2007) had expressed its opposition to the maintenance of the old union, the end of the Soviet Union was finally sealed when the red flag of the union was taken down from above the Kremlin on December 25 1991.96 The dissolution of the inner Soviet empire led to the establishment of 15 new states from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, which – with the exception of the Baltic republics and Georgia – entered a loose affiliation in the form of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).97 The fourth wave of decolonization thus contributed to the dissolution of the core Soviet empire (“the last empire of the 20th century”),98 brought an end to the bipolar global order and helped to overcome the division of Europe which had existed since 1945.
As the head of the South African government, Fredrik Willem de Klerk (*1936) campaigned for the ending of Apartheid. In 1990, he revoked the prohibition of the ANC (African National Congress) and had Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) and other political prisoners released from jail. After his election as president of the ANC, Mandela negotiated with the government on ways to dismantle the Apartheid system and create a new provisional constitution. Mandela and de Klerk met again at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1992 (photograph). In 1993, they were jointly awarded the Noble Prize for Peace. After the first free elections in South Africa in 1994, in which the ANC received a majority of the votes, Nelson Mandela became president; de Klerk acted as his vice president until 1996. / Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992, black-and-white photograph, January 1992, unknown photographer; image source: World Economic Forum
In Southern Africa, the decolonization of the Soviet empire brought an end to the proxy war in Angola, which had been ongoing since 1975.99 As part of the process of rapprochement and de-escalation between the super powers, a UN treaty between Angola, Cuba and South Africa was signed on December 22 1988, in which the three parties directly involved in the conflict agreed that the Cuban troops would be withdrawn from Angola, and the South African army would withdraw from Southwest Africa. This enabled the former German colony to achieve national independence under the name Namibia. In turn, this withdrawal from the conflicts in Angola and Namibia had direct consequences for the “inner decolonization” of South Africa.100 After Pretoria had lost its function as bulwark against Communism, the West increased its diplomatic and economic pressure on the South African regime, in order to force it to relinquish its policy of Apartheid. Total isolation among the international community coupled with enormous internal resistance to Apartheid forced the government under the new president Frederik Willem de Klerk (*1936) to negotiate with the African National Congress (ANC).101 After the Apartheid laws had been rescinded, the leader of the ANC, Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) , was released from prison after 27 years of captivity on February 11 1990, and the process of democratization began to assume concrete form . With the election of Mandela as the first black president of South Africa on April 27 1994, the last remaining vestiges of direct white colonial rule on the African continent disappeared. South Africa is thus a special case in the history of decolonization. With the attainment of dominion status in 1910 and the subsequent gradual achievement of national sovereignty from the British Empire, with the direct effects which the disintegration of the Soviet empire had on it, and with the hard-won transfer of rule from the “white” population to the indigenous population, South Africa combined central elements of the second, third and fourth waves of decolonization.
From the late-18th century, decolonization was a central defining historical trend, which shaped the global system of states as it exists today through the release of destructive and constructive forces. On the one hand, the dissolution of the colonial empires contributed considerably to the end of Europe’s centuries-long unchallenged global dominance and to the disintegration of the Eurocentric global order. New non-European global powers, such as the United States, assumed a dominant role and filled the political vacuum. On the other hand, new states came into being on all of the continents, and in many cases adopted a political, social and economic system which was rooted in Europe. In spite of its revolutionary character – with the exception of the second phase – and the obvious breaks with the past, decolonization nonetheless by no means meant that close links between Europe and the rest of the world completely or abruptly disappeared. On the contrary, it was possible in the context of decolonization to restructure and redefine this web of relationships. Dependency relationships which emerged during colonial rule did not simply end with the attainment of “formal” national independence. Instead, previous political and economic asymmetries often persisted in the “informal” context and hampered independent approaches to development in the former “colonized world”.102 The extent to which the paradigm of globalization, which currently appears very popular, can be usefully applied to the analysis of these processes is hotly debated in historical studies.103
Decolonization was not a one-way street. The European continent did not just leave its mark on the “rest of the world” without itself being affected in a lasting way. Specifically, the methodological change of perspective brought about by Postcolonial Studies104 has demonstrated that it was a reciprocal, multidimensional process which left lasting traces in the periphery as well as in the metropole. The historical debates about the various effects of decolonization on the metropole are in full swing105 and demonstrate how significant the topic is for a European historiography which incorporates the view from outside Europe.106 Together, the four phases of decolonization have profoundly affected the relationship of the continent to the rest of the world right up to the present, as these processes connected the history of Europe with that of the other continents in important ways for a period of more than 200 years.
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idem: Imperial Overstretch: Germany in Soviet Policy from Stalin to Gorbachev, Baden-Baden 1998.
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idem: Russland 1989: Der Untergang des sowjetischen Imperiums, Munich 2009.
Altstadt, Audrey L.: Decolonization in Azerbaijan and the Struggle to Democratize, in: Donald V. Schwartz et al. (ed.): Nationalism and History: The Politics of Nation Building in Post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Toronto 1994, pp. 95–126.
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[Anonymus]: Art. “Entkolonialisierung”, in: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 8 (2006), pp. 131–133.
[Anonymus]: Art. “Revolution”, in: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 23 (2006), pp. 66–67.
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idem: The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought, New York, NY 2007.
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idem / Harper, Tim: Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia, Cambridge, MA 2007.
idem: The Birth of the Modern World: 1780–1914, Malden, MA et al. 2011.
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idem: The Crumbling of Empire: The Disintegration of World Economy, London 1938.
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- Kohn, United Nations 1958, p. 531.
- For a definition of the term “decolonization”, see: Shankar, Decolonization 2001, pp. 131–139; Smith, Decolonization 2001, pp. 193–194; Pereboom, Decolonization 2008, pp. 428–430. In German usage, the terms “Dekolonisierung” and “Entkolonialisierung” exist in parallel to “Dekolonisation” and are usually used synonymously, see the entry “Entkolonialisierung” in: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 8 (2006), pp. 131–133. One exception is Christoph Kalter, who draws a distinction between “Dekolonisation” and “Dekolonisierung” (see: Kalter, Entdeckung 2011, p. 30).
- Bonn, Imperialism 1932, pp. 605–613, see p. 612. Bonn discusses the topic in greater detail in his book The Crumbling of Empire: The Disintegration of World Economy published in 1938, in which he uses the terms “counter-colonization” and “decolonization” synonymously (Bonn, Crumbling of Empire 1938). According to Charles-Robert Ageron, the term “decolonization” was first used in 1836 by the French journalist Henri Fonfrède (1788–1841) in his critique of the French occupation of Algeria. On the history of the term, see: Ageron, article on “Décolonisation” 2004, p. 1; Rothermund, Decolonization 2006, pp. 1–2; Shepard, Invention 2006, pp. 5–6.
- Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel, for example, deal exclusively with the “classic” phase of decolonization from 1945 to 1975 in their influential survey work Dekolonisation: Das Ende der Imperien (see: Jansen / Osterhammel, Dekolonisation 2013).
- For a periodization with three phases, see for example: Reinhard, Europäische Expansion 1985, pp. 203–204; Osterhammel, Kolonialismus 2006, p. 44; Wendt, Kolonialismus 2007, pp. 177–180; 283–287; 315–345; Reinhard, Kolonialismus 2008, pp. 142–152; 172–176; 310–374.
- For a definition of the term “revolution”, see for example: Albrecht, Revolution 1997, pp. 447–448; Harambour-Ross, Revolution 2008, pp. 373–376; the entry “Revolution” in: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 23 (2006), pp. 66–67. On the history of the term, see: Koselleck et al., Revolution 1984, pp. 653–788.
- For a definition of the term “revolution”, see for example: Albrecht, Revolution 1997, pp. 447–448; Harambour-Ross, Revolution 2008, pp. 373–376; the entry “Revolution” in: Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 23 (2006), pp. 66–67. On the history of the term, see: Koselleck et al., Revolution 1984, pp. 653–788.
- Fanon, Wretched of the Earth 2004, p. 2.
- Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, September 2 1945, in: Fall, Ho Tschi Minh 1968, pp. 161–164.
- On the concept of revolution as a “Legitimationstitel”, see Koselleck, Revolution 1984, p. 655.
- On the historiography and the various interpretative models, see: Rothermund, Decolonization 2006, pp. 21–32.
- The British historian John Darwin was the first to argue in favour of combining the various approaches (see: Darwin, Britain 1988, pp. 17–25; idem, End of the British Empire 1991). Wolfgang Reinhard also supported this position (Reinhard, Kolonialismus 2008, p. 147).
- The concept of the “Atlantic revolutions” was first developed in the 1960s by the historians Robert R. Palmer and Jacques Godechot (Palmer, Age of Democratic Revolution 1959; idem, Age of Democratic Revolution 1964; Godechot, France and the Atlantic Revolution 1965). For more recent research on this area, see: Bailyn, Atlantic History 2005; Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution 2006; Kloster, Revolutions 2009; Osterhammel, Verwandlung der Welt 2010, pp. 747–777.
- Hobsbawm, Age of Revolution 1975; Brubake / Cooper, Empires 2010, pp. 219–250.
- Osterhammel, Verwandlung der Welt 2010, p. 586.
- On this development, see for example: Rodríguez O., Emancipation of America 2000, pp. 131–152; Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World 2006, pp. 292–324; Bayly, Birth of the Modern World 2011, pp. 92–96.
- On the global dimensions of the Seven Years’ War, see: Schumann / Schweizer, Seven Years War 2008; Füssel, Siebenjährige Krieg 2010; Baugh, Global Seven Years War 2011.
- On the international dimension of the Napoleonic Wars, see: Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars 2008.
- For an all-America perspective, see: Langley, Americas in the Age of Revolution 1996. For comprehensive literature on the North American Revolution, see for example: Schröder, Amerikanische Revolution 1982. For more modern literature on the topic, see: Greene, American Revolution 2000, pp. 93–102; Wood, American Revolution 2005; Wellenreuther, Chaos und Krieg 2006.
- On Britain’s shift of emphasis to India, see: Bayly, Birth of the Modern World 2011, pp. 94–95; Brubake / Cooper, Empires 2010, pp. 240–245; Wende, Britische Empire 2012, pp. 145–168, particularly p. 153.
- Hunt, Inventing Human Rights 2007, pp. 113–145; Geggus, Effects of the American Revolution 2000, pp. 523–530; Schröder, Amerikanische Revolution, pp. 161–166. For a sample of the very extensive literature on the French Revolution, see: Reichardt, Blut der Freiheit 1998; Doyle, French Revolution 2002; Schulin, Französische Revolution 2004.
- On the global dimensions of the French Revolution, see: Bayly, Birth of the Modern World 2011, pp. 96–100.
- On the Haitian Revolution, see for example: Nesbitt, Universal Emancipation 2008; Geggus, World of the Haitian Revolution 2009; Dubois, Avengers of the New World, 2004; Ghachem, Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution 2012.
- On Brazilian independence see: Cavaliero, Independence of Brazil 1993.
- On the independence of Spanish America see for example: Lynch, Spanish American Revolutions 1986; Langley, Americas in the Age of Revolution 1996, pp. 166–213; Rodriguez O., Independence of Spanish America 1998; Chasteen, Americanos 2008.
- Osterhammel, Verwandlung der Welt 2010, p. 602 (“imperiale[r] Absteiger des 19. Jahrhunderts”).
- On the significance of the Monroe Doctrine see: Perkins, Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations 1993, pp. 147–169; Sexton, Monroe Doctrine 2011.
- On the Spanish-American War and US imperialism see: Pérez, War of 1898 1998; LaFeber, New Empire 1998; Healy, US Expansionism 1970; Ninkovich, United States and Imperialism 2001.
- On the struggle of the Philippines for independence see: Linn, Philippine War 2000; Schumacher, Kolonialkrieg der USA 2006, pp. 109–144.
- Osterhammel, Verwandlung der Welt 2010, pp. 593–596.
- On the use of the term “Neo-Europes” or “new Europe” in this context see: Wendt, Kolonialismus 2007, p. 283; Reinhard, Kolonialismus 2008, pp. 152–176.
- On the leading role played by Canada in this development see: Martin, Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation 1995.
- Osterhammel, Verwandlung der Welt 2010, p. 595 (“d[ie] wichtigsten Dokumente der globalen Verfassungsgeschichte”).
- On the development of the “white” dominions see: McIntyre, Colonies into Commonwealth 1966, pp. 35–116; Eddy / Schreuder, Rise of Colonial Nationalism 1988; Wende, Britische Empire 2012, pp. 169–193.
- See Mansergh, Britische Commonwealth 1969, pp. 293–341; Hall, Commonwealth 1971, pp. 125–178; Holland, British Empire and the Great War 1999, pp. 114–137.
- On this development see: Mansergh, Britische Commonwealth 1969, pp. 390–456; Hall, Commonwealth 1971, pp. 229–690; Darwin, Third British Empire 1999, pp. 64–87; Wende, Britische Empire 2012, pp. 247–250.
- See for example: Barkan, Völker klagen an 2002, pp. 221–320; Keal, European Conquest and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2003.
- On the history of Apartheid see for example: Louw, Apartheid 2004.
- On the further development of the Commonwealth of Nations see: McIntyre, Colonies into Commonwealth 1966, pp. 176–337; Mansergh, Britische Commonwealth 1969, pp. 591–679; Hall, Commonwealth 1971, pp. 763–869; Wende, Britische Empire 2012, pp. 309–322.
- For an overview of the third phase of decolonization in the various European colonial empires see: Thomas, Crisis of Empire 2008; Kruke, Dekolonisation 2009; Jansen / Osterhammel, Dekolonisation 2013, pp. 52–85.
- Osterhammel, Kolonialismus 2006, pp. 120–121 (“europäische Weltbeherrschung”, “Teil des Übergangs zu einer neuen Ordnung des Weltstaatensystems”).
- Ibid. p. 119; Eckert, Kolonialismus 2006, pp. 86–94.
- Klein, Kolonialkriege 2006; Bührer, Imperialkriege 2011.
- See in particular: Headrick, Tools of Empire 1981.
- See Stuchtey, Europäische Expansion und ihre Feinde 2012.
- Hochschild, Leopold’s Ghost 1999; Porter, Sir Roger Casement 2001, pp. 59–74; Grant, Christian Critics of Empire 2001, pp. 27–58.
- See Schölch, Ägypten den Ägyptern 1973; Cole, Colonialism and Revolution 1993; Bayly, Origins of Nationality 1998, pp. 1–132; Barraclough, Revolt Against the West 2004, pp. 118–130; Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism 2007.
- Aydin, Global Anti-Western Moment 2007, pp. 213–236.
- For John Darwin, the period from the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to the Japanese occupation of Singapore in 1942 marks the disintegration of the Eurocentric world order. See Darwin, After Tamerlane 2008, pp. 365–423, particularly p. 421. Rudolf von Albertini had already emphasized the particular significance of the two world wars for the end of colonialism (Albertini, Impact of Two World Wars 1969, pp. 17–35). See also: Jansen / Osterhammel, Dekolonisation 2013, pp. 28–32, 47–52.
- On the various effects of the First World War in the African colonies see: Page, Africa and the First World War 1987; Aldrich / Hilliard, French and British Empires 2010, pp. 524–539.
- In particular see: Adas, Contested Hegemony 2004, pp. 31–63; Sachsenmaier, Searching for Alternatives to Western Modernity 2006, pp. 241–260.
- On the right of nations to self-determination see: Fisch, Selbstbestimmungsrecht 2010, pp. 144–182.
- Manela, Wilsonian Moment 2007; Gallagher, Nationalism and the Crisis of Empire 1981, pp. 355–368.
- See Louis, Era of the Mandates System 1984, pp. 201–213; Callahan, Mandates and Empire in Africa 2008. The mandate system of the League of Nations was transferred to the UN trusteeship system after the Second World War.
- Osterhammel, Kolonialismus 2006, p. 42 (“die koloniale Welt [erreichte] das universalhistorische Maximum ihrer Ausdehnung”). On the apogee of European colonial rule and expansion in the Middle East during the interwar period see: Andrew / Kanya-Forstner, Climax of French Imperial Expansion 1981; Darwin, Britain, Egypt 1981.
- On the Italian invasion of Abyssinia see: Mattioli, Experimentierfeld der Gewalt 2005.
- Shipway, Decolonization 2008, pp. 35–60; Dinkel, Globalisierung des Widerstands 2012, pp. 209–230.
- See Geiss, Pan-African Movement 1974; Esedebe, Pan-Africanism 1994; Eckert, Bringing the “Black Atlantic” 2007, pp. 237–257.
- On Japanese imperialism see: Beasley, Japanese Imperialism 1987, particularly pp. 220–250.
- On the effects of the Second World War see: Rathbone, Africa and the Second World War 1986; Holland, European Decolonization 1985, pp. 37–69; Ansprenger, Dissolution of the Colonial Empires 1989, pp. 145–158; Jeffrey, Second World War 1999, pp. 306–328; Echenberg, Morts pour la France, pp. 363–380; Jackson, British Empire and the Second World War 2006.
- Thomas, French Empire at War 1998.
- On the significance of the Atlantic Charter for the anticolonial nationalist movements see: Ibhawoh, Imperialism and Human Rights 2007, pp. 151–158; Borgwardt, New Deal for the World 2005, pp. 34–35.
- On the Atlantic Charter and the negotiations see: Brinkley, Atlantic Charter 1994; on the role of the USA see: Louis, Imperialism at Bay 1978.
- Concluding appeal of the resolution “Declaration to the Colonial Workers, Farmers and Intellectuals”, online: http://www.marxists.org/archive/padmore/1947/pan-african-congress/ch03.htm [31/03/2014]. On the Fifth Pan-African Congress see: Esedebe, Pan-Africanism 1994, p. 164.
- Cooper, Reconstructing Empire 2011, pp. 196–210; White, Reconstructing Europe 2011, pp. 211–236.
- On the “second colonial invasion” or the “second colonial occupation” see: Low / Lonsdale, Towards the New Order 1976, pp. 12–16; Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa 1988, pp. 107–109; Shipway, Decolonization 2008, p. 62 and p. 118.
- In particular see: Bayly / Harper, Forgotten Wars 2007; Füredi, Colonial Wars 1994.
- On the decolonization and partition of India see for example: Talbot / Singh, Partition of India 2009; Khan, Great Partition 2007; Panigrahi, India’s Partition 2004; Wolpert, Shameful Flight 2006.
- On the decolonization of South East Asia see: Dahm, Dekolonisationsprozeß Indonesiens 1990, pp. 67–88; Clayton, Wars of French Decolonization 1994, pp. 39–78; Frey, Drei Wege zur Unabhängigkeit 2002, pp. 399–433; idem, Dekolonisierung in Südostasien 2006; Shipway, Decolonization 2008, pp. 87–113.
- On the Bandung Conference see: Mackie, Bandung 1955 2005; Lee, Making a World After Empire 2010; Tan, Bandung Revisited 2008; Burke, Decolonization and the Evolution 2010, pp. 13–34.
- See Louis, British Empire in the Middle East 1984.
- Jankowski, Nasser’s Egypt 2002.
- On the Suez Crisis see: Carlton, Britain and the Suez Crisis 1989; Kingseed, Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis 1995; Kyle, Suez 2011.
- For an overview of decolonization on the African continent see: Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa 1988; Rothermund, Decolonization 2006, pp. 127–195; Shipway, Decolonization 2008, pp. 114–231.
- On the radicalization of colonial force in the two decolonization wars see for example: Klose, Human Rights 2013; Anderson, Histories of the Hanged 2005; Elkins, Britain’s Gulag 2005; Branche, La Torture 2001.
- Connelly, Diplomatic Revolution 2002; Klose, Source of Embarrassment 2011, pp. 237–257; idem, Human Rights 2013, pp. 192–230; Terretta, Human Rights, pp. 329–360; Jansen / Osterhammel, Dekolonisation 2013, pp. 106–107.
- Singh, India and Afro-Asian Independence 1993; Mazower, No Enchanted Palace 2009, pp. 149–189; Maul, Human Rights, Development 2012.
- On the decolonization of the Congo see: Young, Politics in the Congo 1965.
- Burke, Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights 2010, pp. 35–58.
- On the Portuguese wars of decolonization see for example: MacQueen, Decolonization of Portuguese Africa 1997.
- On Rhodesia see: Holland, European Decolonization 1985, pp. 279–292; Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa 1988, pp. 218–228.
- On the proxy wars in southern Africa and the intervention of the two super powers see: Westad, Global Cold War 2005, pp. 207–241; Onslow, Cold War in Southern Africa 2009; Saunders / Onslow, Cold War and Southern Africa 2010, pp. 222–243.
- On South Africa as a special case in the decolonization process and its role in the Cold War see: Nolutshungu, South Africa and the Transfer of Power in Africa 1988, pp. 477–503; Vale, Cold War and South Africa 2008, pp. 22–41; Lee, Rethinking Cold War History 2011, pp. 6–11.
- See: Rubinstein, Moscow’s Third World Strategy 1988; Hilger, Sowjetunion und die Dritte Welt 2009.
- On the extensive debates on the imperial character of the Soviet Union see for example: Lieven, Russian Empire and the Soviet Union 1995, pp. 607–636; Adomeit, Imperial Overstretch 1998 , pp. 25–48; Martin, Affirmative Action Empire 2001; Beissinger, Rethinking Empire 2005, pp. 14–45; Plaggenborg, Experiment Moderne 2006, pp. 245–321.
- On the division into an “inner empire” and an “outer empire” see for example: Kotkin, Armageddon Averted 2001, pp. 20–23; Pearson, Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire 2002, pp. 45–49; 116–165.
- See Ouimet, Brezhnev Doctrine 2003.
- See Plaggenborg, Experiment Moderne 2006, pp. 277–278.
- On the use of the term “decolonization” in relation to the end of the Soviet empire see: Altstadt, Decolonization in Azerbaijan 1994, pp. 95–126; Chamberlain, Decolonization 1999, pp. 93–115; Strayer, Decolonization 2001, pp. 375–406; Pearson, Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire 2002; Reinhard, Kolonialismus 2008, pp. 364–365. On the dissolution of the Soviet empire in the comparative perspective see: Barkey, After Empire 1997; Dawisha, End of Empire 1997; de Tinguy, Fall of the Soviet Empire 1997.
- John Darwin interprets Gorbachev’s policy of reform as an attempt to move from the model of direct rule to “informal empire” (see Darwin, After Tamerlane 2008, pp. 478–479).
- On Gorbachev’s policy of reform see: Adomeit, Sowjetunion unter Gorbatschow 1990; Brown, Gorbachev Revolution 2010, pp. 244–266.
- Stephen Kotkin also compares the peaceful withdrawal of the Red Army and the associated position of strict non-intervention in the Eastern Bloc states with the bloody decolonization wars of France, Portugal and the Netherlands (see Kotkin, Armageddon Averted 2001, p. 89).
- On the course of the revolutions and the disintegration of the Communist regimes in Eastern Central Europe see: Ash, We the People 1990; Altrichter, Russland 1989 2009, pp. 307–388; Lévesque, East European Revolutions 2010, pp. 311–332.
- Altrichter, Der Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion 2002, p. 563 (“Explosion des Ethnischen”).
- On the nationalities question and the ethnic conflicts see: Lapidus, From Union to Commonwealth 1992.
- On the dissolution of the “inner empire” see: Dunlop, Rise of Russia 1995; Altrichter, Russland 1989 2009, pp. 213–297; idem, Der Zusammenbruch der Sowjetunion 2002, pp. 561–578; Pravda, Collapse of the Soviet Union 2010, pp. 356–377.
- The five new states are Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. See Kunze / Vogel, Von der Sowjetunion in die Unabhängigkeit 2011.
- Quote from the last foreign minister of the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze, in: Schewardnadse, Als der Eiserne Vorhang zerriss 2007, p. 208.
- Saunders, Angola/Namibia Crisis 2009, pp. 225–240. For a detailed discussion of the wars in Namibia and Angola in the context of the Cold War see: Baines, Beyond the Border War 2008.
- On the connection between the end of the Cold War and the “inner decolonization” of South Africa see: Westad, Global Cold War 2005, pp. 392–393; Wendt, Kolonialismus 2007, pp. 324–325; Vale, Cold War and South Africa 2008, pp. 37–38; Saunders / Onslow, Cold War and Southern Africa 2010, pp. 238–243; Saunders, Ending of the Cold War 2011, pp. 264–276.
- On the end of Apartheid see for example: Louw, Apartheid 2004.
- See Ziai, Neokoloniale Weltordnung 2012, pp. 23–30.
- While Reinhardt Wendt argues in this vein, Frederick Cooper argues against, see: Wendt, Kolonialismus 2007, pp. 325–330 and pp. 349–356; Cooper, Colonialism in Question, pp. 91–112. For an overview of the debate see: Epple, Globalisierung 2012.
- For an overview of Postcolonial Studies see for example: Conrad, Jenseits des Eurozentrismus 2002; Young, Postcolonialism 2001; Lindner, Neuere Kolonialgeschichte 2011.
- See for example Thompson, Empire Strikes Back 2005; Altmann, Abschied vom Empire 2005; Conrad, Dekolonisierung in der Metropole 2011.
- On the central importance of the colonial perspective and decolonization for a history of Europe see: Osterhammel, Europamodelle 2004, pp. 157–181.