New special issue offers transnational perspectives on southern Africa’s liberation movements

03 February, 2017

A new special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies published this month brings fresh evidence to bear on the histories of Zimbabwean, Namibian, Mozambican and Angolan liberation movements.

The issue, Volume 43 Issue 1, is edited by Jocelyn Alexander and Miles Tendi of ODID with JoAnn McGregor of the University of Sussex.

It includes individual articles by Jocelyn Alexander and JoAnn McGregor on the training of ZAPU soldiers in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s; by Miles Tendi on ZANU’s Nhari Mutiny; and by ODID DPhil student Lennart Bolliger on Black Namibian soldiers in South Africa’s former security forces.

The special issue builds on the insights of an extensive body of work on the South African African National Congress (ANC) in exile and a growing literature on the ‘global’ Cold War.

In keeping with much of this work, the authors assume neither the primacy (or homogeneity) of nationalist loyalties as they exist within the boundaries of today’s nation-states, nor any straightforward imposition or transfer of Cold War ideologies or strategic interests on to southern African conflicts.

The articles instead follow the movement of ideas, people, institutions and goods across borders. Their primary focus is on African soldiers, politicians and diplomats, people whose relationships and motivations were varied and shifting, and whose interactions created opportunities for the circulation, promotion, and adaptation of a great range of cultural, political and military influences.

Tracing these interactions within and among liberation movements, their hosts, and a wider set of external actors, reveals lasting – and sometimes surprising – legacies that have too often been eclipsed by dominant national histories.

Read the issue.