Making « modernizing elites» : decolonization, development and African students' training in the US (1950-1990)
(Université de Genève)
Paper short abstract:
This paper aims to show how the training of postcolonial African students in American universities fits both in the projects of US expansion and African nations-building, in a context of global Cold War marked by the ideology of development.
Paper long abstract:
In the late 1950s, while anticolonial revolts were about to lead to the creation of independent African states, civil rights activists, philanthropic foundations, African nationalists and US universities joined forces to train Africa's future elites in the United States. After a shy start, these initiatives developed considerably in the 1960s. On the one hand, the new African states were seeking to quickly train the civil servants who would be able to implement modernization projects on the continent. On the other hand, the extension of the Cold War in southern countries led American diplomacy to extend its influence in Africa. The convergence of these African and American interests led to the establishment of large-scale scholarship programs which enabled several thousand young Africans to study in the United States until 1990. This paper aims to show how the training of postcolonial African students in American universities fits both in the project of expansion of US diplomacy and in that of African nations-building. Taking the example of the ASPAU and AFGRAD programs, it will highlight three essential dimensions of the US training project: its ideological dynamics (modernization theory), the competitive climate (US vs USSR and old colonial metropolises' programs; training abroad vs training at home) and finally the ability of students to play the role of mediators who participated in re-appropriating US influence on the continent.
Shaping hearts and minds : African elites' training from the colonial era to the present