Voices of Decolonization A Brief History with Documents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/18/2014
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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This unprecedented volume shows how and why mid-twentieth-century decolonization transformed societies and cultures and continues to shape today’s world. The introduction explores decolonization as both a historical era and an aspirational movement. A rich collection of primary sources combines the voices of the colonized and the colonizers in Africa, Asia, and throughout the world to recapture the intensity and variety of the independence struggles. Organized chronologically and topically, the documents reveal how and why formal decolonization, once an unimaginable prospect to imperialists, came quickly to seem inevitable. Maps, document headnotes, a chronology, questions to consider, and a bibliography enrich students’ understanding of decolonization and its enduring consequences.

Author Biography

Todd Shepard (Ph.D., Rutgers University) is associate professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University, where he specializes in modern France, French Empire, and decolonization. The author of The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France, he has also published articles in the American Historical Review, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Modern History, and Journal of Global History, as well as contributed chapters to Algeria 1800-2000: Identity, Memory, Nostalgia (Patricia M. E. Lorcin, ed.) and Getting Out: Historical Perspectives on Leaving Iraq (Michael Walzer, ed.).

Table of Contents


What Is Decolonization?

The Varieties of Imperialism

Interwar Empires: Depression, Fascism, and Consolidation

World War II: Decolonization Becomes Imaginable

The End of Imperial Rule in India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East

European Efforts to Reinvent Overseas Imperialism

The Cold War, Local Collaborators, and the Slowing Pace of Change

The Rise of Anticolonial Radicalisms

The International Politics of Decolonization

Algeria’s Decolonization

The Legacies of Decolonization


1. 1945-1947: Decolonization Becomes Imaginable

1. Winston Churchill, "Hands off the British Empire," December 31, 1944

2. The United Nations Charter, Preamble and Chapter XI, Articles 73 and 74, "Declaration concerning Non-autonomous Territories," June 26, 1945

3. Ho Chi Minh, "Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam," September 2, 1945

4. "An Appeal of the Vietnamese Bishops in Favor of the Independence of Their Country," September 23, 1945

5. "Message of the Four Vietnamese Bishops to the Christians of the World and to the People of the United States of America and the United Kingdom," November 4, 1945

6. Mildred Talbot, Letter on India’s Independence, August 27, 1947

2. Defining New International Connections

7. The Fifth Pan-African Congress, "Declaration of the Challenge to the Colonial Powers," 1945

8. Anonymous Kenyan, "Our Delegation Was Sent to the UN," c. 1950

9. UNESCO, "The Statement on Race," July 1950

10. Alfred Sauvy, "Three Worlds, One Planet," August 1952

11. Final Communiqué of the Bandung Conference, April 24, 1955

12. Richard Wright, "The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference," 1956

3. From Possibilities of Independence to Expectations of Liberation

13. Historical Survey of the Origins and Growth of Mau Mau, "1949," 1960

14. Historical Survey of the Origins and Growth of Mau Mau, "1950," 1960

15. Historical Survey of the Origins and Growth of Mau Mau, "Mau Mau Terrorism," 1960

16. Premier Gamal Abdul Nasser, Egypt’s Liberation: The Philosophy of the Revolution, 1955

17. Report Addressed to "Gen" by "Dighenis," May 23, 1955

18. Oath of the National Organization of Cypriot Combatants, 1955

4. The Triumph of Anticolonialism

19. Mohammed Dib, "They’ve Driven Us from the Light," L’Incendie, 1954

20. National Liberation Front, "Proclamation of November 1," 1954

21. French Minister of the Interior François Mitterrand, Speech in Response to FLN Actions in the French National Assembly, November 12, 1954

22. Slimane Azem, "Locust, Leave My Country," Berber song, 1955

23. Muslim Population of Tebessa, Letter to M. Robert Lacoste Concerning the Events of July, 20, 1956 in Tebessa, Algeria, July 1956

24. French Intelligence Analysis of British Public Opinion on Algerian Conflict, "Massigli Note," December 1956

25. Serge Bromberger, "The Tragic Toll of the Melouza Massacres: 302 Men and Adolescent Boys Killed. The Survivors Seek the Protection of French Troops. Army Units in Pursuit of the Authors of this Genocide"

26. Abdelaziz Boupacham, Testimony of Torture during the Algerian War

27. Simone de Beauvoir, "In Defense of Djamila Boupacha"

28. General Charles de Gaulle, President of the French Republic, Paris Press Conference, April 11, 1961

29. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1961

5. The Contagion of Independence

30. Conscience Africaine, Manifesto for Belgian Congo, July 1956

31. ABAKO, Counter Manifesto for Belgian Congo, August 23, 1956

32. British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, "Winds of Change" Speech to the South Africa Parliament, February 3, 1960

33. UN General Assembly, "Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples," December 14, 1960

34. Monseigneur Alvim Pereira, Auxiliary Bishop of Lourenco Marques, Mozambique, "Ten Principles," 1961

35. Amilcar Cabral, Declaration to the Fourth Commission of the UN General Assembly, "Anonymous Soldiers for the United Nations," December 12, 1962

36. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," 1963

37. Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to the PRC, S. V. Chervonenko, and Chinese Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai, April 20, 1965


A Chronology of the Era of Decolonization (1937-1965)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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