HS2202 Twentieth Century Europe

Week 8 Decolonization

How to use this handout

We will be working our way through parts of this handout in class. You can later use the paper copy or the online version to follow up some of the points discussed in class.


Today's topic covers

I hope you will get a good overview of the topic and will be able to make links between the history of decolonization and other events and trends in the same period.



Tasks for Students


'Colonialism is variously motivated by security considerations (settlers are planted to control strategic territories), economic avarice (exploiting the raw materials and labour of the native population), religious beliefs (spreading 'the true faith') and/or over-population (or unwanted population) in the metropolis.'

Bloomsbury Guide to Human Thought, Bloomsbury 1993


'The neocolonialism system refers to relations between the West and many underdeveloped countries, which replicate earlier relations of political and economic exploitation and dependency.
The expression 'neocolonialism' is often used to describe the continuing political and economic dependence of some former colonies upon the powers which colonized them, as well as the increased economic control of allegedly sovereign states by economic powers such as the US and Japan.
It is argued that the advanced industrialized states maintain this control through their leading economic position in world trade, and through the influence of large corporations operating on a global basis. By controlling the terms upon which trade is conducted Western countries perpetuate their privileged position.'

Bloomsbury Guide to Human Thought, Bloomsbury 1993


I have put together this chronology from a variety of sources, some of which give different dates for the same events.

1917 Balfour Declaration promised to create a Jewish national state in Palestine, and to create an 'Arab National Home' as well.
1918 Ottoman Empire collapsed.
1919 Treaty of Versailles divided former Ottoman territories into League of Nations mandates.
1919 W.E.B. duBois organized first Pan-African Congress.
1922 Egypt becames independent
1922 Britian received League of Nations mandate for Palestine
1931- Gandhi leads Salt March
1931 Japanese army occupies Manchuria.
1935 Government of India Act
1932 Iraq became independent
1935 Persia renamed Iran
1936-1939 Arab uprisings in Palestine
1937 Japan invaded China.
1941 Iran occupied by British, Russian and American armies.
1941 Lebanon and Syria became independent from France
1942 Quit India movements begins
1944 Brazzavile Conference
1945 Pan African Congress held in Manchester (October)
1946 Ho Chi Minh declared an independent republic in Indochina (Vietnam) - Vietnam war started in December
1946 Jordan became independent from Britian
1946 The Philippines become independent from U.S.A
1947 Marshall Plan
1947 India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain.
1947 Nationalist uprising in Madagascar
1947 Burma became independent
1948 Start of Berlin blockade
1948 Israel, Arab Palestine & Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) became independent from Britain
1948 Apartheid established in South Africa.
1948 Partion of Palestine and First Arab-Israeli War
1948 Guerilla war starts in Malaya
1949 NATO formed (April)
1949 End of Berlin blockage (May)
1949 Mao Zhedong came to power in China (October) - Chiang Kai-Shek's government was driven onto Taiwan.
1949 Indonesia (previously Dutch East Indies) gained independence
1950 China & USSR recognized Viet Minh (January)
1950 Korean War started
1950 Schumann Plan started (May)
1951 Libya becomes independent.
1952 Nasser to power in Egypt.
1952 Mau Mau rebellion began in Kenya (October)
1953 Death of Stalin (March)
1953 US intervention in Iran to restore Shah to power
1953 End of Korean War
1954 War in Malaya ends
1954 Defeat of France at Dien Bien Phu (May)followed by Geneva Conference
1954 Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia became independent from France i
1954 Algerian uprising against French rule (November)
1955 Bandung Conference of African and Asian states
1955 Warsaw Pact set up (May)
1955 Mau-Mau uprising ended
1956 Morocco & Tunisia becomes independent of France (March)
1956 Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal (July) Israel, Great Britain and France then invaded Egypt. The U.N., supported by the U.S.A arranged a ceasefire, and the Canal passed to Egyptian national ownership.
1956 Hungarian Uprising (October)
1957 Ghana became independent (March)
1957 Independence for Malaysia
1958 Coup in Algiers (May)
1958 De Gaulle became PM of France (June)
1958 Guinea became independent (October)
1958 Singapore became independent
1958 United Arab Republic is formed
1959 Castro to power in Cuba
1960 The Belgian Congo gained independence (July)
1960 Mali became independent
1960 Nigeria became independent (October)
1961 Sierra Leone became independent
1961 South Africa left Commonwealth (March)
1961 Berlin wall erected (August)
1962 Algeria became independent from France (July) and Jamaica, Uganda (October) and Tanganika (December) from Britain
1962 Malayan Federation formed
1963 Kenya became independent (December)
1963 Organization for African Unity was formed
1964 The Palestine Liberation Organization was formed.
1964 Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia & Somalia became independent
1965 Sierra Leone became independent
1965 Southern Rhodesia declared independence
1973 The U.S. signed cease-fire in Vietnam.
1975 South Vietnam fell to North Vietnam.
1994 Nelson Mandela elected president of South Africa - end of apartheid ends.

Tasks for Students
Read through this chronology and identify

After the class you may like to add new dates or amend any that you think are inaccurate


'(The) Homeric Odyssey of the white' race, which, having now reached every corner of the world, has transformed, or is in the process of transforming barbaric continents into civilised regions'.

Prince Lanza di Scalea, Mussolini's Minister of Colonies, speaking at the opening of France's Colonial Exhibition in 1931

'Racism generates harmful psychological constructs that both blind the black man to his subjection to a universalized white norm and alienate his consciousness. A racist culture by definition prohibits psychological health in the black man'.

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) in Black Skin, White Masks Paris, 1952.

'The colonial world was one of two cultures. The introduction of a wage-based economy, of a modern transportation system, of new techniques in medicine and - equally important - of a value system based on the principles of change and material progress, altered the old order.'

Raymond F.Betts 'Europe In Retrospect' http://www.britannia.com/history/euro/4/2_2.html

'Like the battleship, empire was made obsolete by the Second World War. A creation of nineteenth-century power politics, such empire depended on a set of cultural values in which paternalism was a pivotal concept....Different concepts of authority issued forth after 1945.'

Raymond F.Betts 'Europe In Retrospect' http://www.britannia.com/history/euro/4/2_2.html

'True democracy has no colour distinction. It does not choose between black and white. We are here in this tremendous gathering under the K.A.U. flag to find which road leads us from darkness into democracy. In order to find it we Africans must first achieve the right to elect our own representatives. That is surely the first principle of democracy.'

Jomo Kenyatta speaking at the Kenya African Union Meeting at Nyeri, July 26, 1952

'Violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.'

Fanon The Wretched of the Earth (Les Damnes de la Terre.) Paris, 1961.

'Decolonisation is really about creating a new breed of men. The chattels of colonial power become men by the very act breaking free'.

Fanon Wretched of the Earth, 1961.

'No one is in any doubt that the European-directed decolonisation project, 40 years on, has failed. The immense potential of the continent has not been met, nor have the minimum aspirations of its people'.

Karl Maier 'You can't pass the buck in Africa', New Statesman, May 29, 2000

'The epoch when the Western powers controlled our destinies is over. The peoples of Asia and Africa must now guide their own destinies.'

Chou En Lai, foreign minister of the People's Republic of China, at Bandung Conference of independent African and Asian countries, 1955.

"In the end it all comes down to the very obvious point that a history, even one dignified with the name of a great university, is only the sum of the personal preferences of its authors".

Max Beloff (1996) The British Empire History Today February on the writing of the new Oxford History of the British Empire

Sources Used

Max Beloff (1996) The British Empire History Today February.
Martin Evans (1997) La lutte continue...? Contemporary History and Algeria. History Today February.
Martin Evans (2000) Projecting a Greater France History Today February.
J D Hargreaves (1988) Decolonization in Africa London: Longman
Douglas Johnson (1995) Atolls and Atom Bombs: France's Colonial Design History Today December.
Denis Judd (1999) Britain: Land Beyond Hope and Glory History Today April.
V G Kiernan (1982) European Empires from Conquest to Collapse 1815-1960, London: Fontana
Karl Maier (2000) 'You can't pass the buck in Africa', New Statesman, May 29.
Bernard Porter (1996) The Empire Strikes Back History Today September.
T Smith (1978) 'A Comparative Study of French and British Decolonization', Comparative Studies in Society and History
H S Wilson (1994) African Decolonization London: Edward Arnold

Web Resources

Jawaharlal Nehru: Marxism, Capitalism and Non-Alignment http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1941nehru.html

Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, 1945 http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1945vietnam.html

Jomo Kenyatta: The Kenya Africa Union is Not the Mau Mau, 1952 http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1952kenyatta-kau1.html

United Nations: Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 1960 http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1960-un-colonialism.html

Information on Frantz Fanon http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Postcolonial/Fanon.html

URL: http://pers-www.wlv.ac.uk/~le1810/hs2202-8.htm
Page created by Penny Welch November 2001

Politics Links University Homepage