This panel examines the history of specific nationalisms and projects of nation-building in colonial and post-colonial Africa. It will explore the basis for the construction of new national identities and how specific anti-colonial grievances and aspirations for the future were given national form.
The role of African nationalism in bringing about political independence and in forming the post-colonial African states has been the subject of significant analysis by Africanists in general and by political scientists in particular. Yet surprisingly little historical research has been carried out on the ways in which specific nationalisms were constructed, both in the late colonial and (in particular) immediate post-colonial period. The panel intends to contribute towards a comparative understanding of the role of African nationalisms. We invite participants to analyse and present specific instances of how African nationalist movements imagined and discussed proto-national communities and their histories in the light of then contemporary circumstances; how they mapped their anti-colonial grievances and their aspirations for the future (political, economic, social and cultural) onto new nation-based projects; how they and their supporters utilised the mechanisms of inherited post-colonial states to construct new nations from above, or from below, after the achievement of independence; and how these national projects were contested by other nationalist movements. We particularly welcome papers which consider divisions within or between one or more nationalist movements or parties in the pre- and/or post-independence period; which explore competing understandings within nationalist movements of the meaning of 'independence', 'citizenship', 'national identity', 'self-determination' or other ideas or concepts associated with nationalism, within the context of African politics in the mid- twentieth century; or which consider the colonial and international context within which the African model of nation-building developed. This panel is endorsed by the AEGIS CRG African History.