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Liberation armies' imagined futures in southern Africa 
Justin Pearce (Stellenbosch University)
JoAnn McGregor (University of Sussex)
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History (x) Futures (y)
Philosophikum, S82
Saturday 3 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Liberation armies were not just military institutions - they were places of imagination that drew on colonial experience and education, pan-Africanism, nationalism, and Cold War exchange. This panel explores the making of southern African soldiers' imagined futures as both inspiration and loss.

Long Abstract:

From the 1960s to the 1980s, when anti-colonial liberation struggles coincided with the height of the Cold War, Southern Africa played a central role in the global movement of people and exchange of ideas. In recent decades, research has led to fresh understandings of the position of the 'Global South' in the Cold War, and of the key role of exiled life in nationalism. This panel will engage and add to this work through an exploration of liberation armies as not just military institutions but as places of political and cultural production in which new imaginaries of the future were made. Futures were constructed through exchange and experience; they drew on colonial education, nationalism, pan-Africanism, internationalism, revolutionary icons and models, notions of modernity and gender, and ideas about statehood. These imagined futures were diverse, shifting, and generationally and geographically distinct. They motivated and disciplined liberation army soldiers, serving - over time - as world-making inspiration and as means of measuring loss and failure.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -