Seminar: Challenging Imperial Internationalism: The Anglo-American Powers, the UN and the question of Katanga 1960-1963


Video duration: 
1 h 19 min.

LumumbaThis seminar will discuss how the imperial internationalism of Britain and the United States was affected by the role of the United Nations during the Congo crisis from 1960-1964. The introduction of a peace-keeping force to safeguard the sovereignty of the Congo shortly after its independence in June 1960, immediately had the effect of internationalising the crisis. The main points of contention which emerged between Britain and the United States related to the use of military force by the United Nations to end the secession of the south-eastern province of Katanga, which was widely held to have been engineered by Belgium and Western business interests. The debate had wider and deeper implications as newly-independent African countries positioned the Congo question as a means to exacerbate the differences between Britain and the US and in the process, challenge imperialist internationalism. For their part, policymakers in London and Washington not only faced a crisis which combined the problems of decolonisation with the increasing tensions of the Cold War, but also the realisation that the UN was increasingly susceptible to African influence. The ending of the secession by UN forces in 1962 reflected their opposing visions of how to deal with decolonisation but also represented the first important defeat of traditional, liberal, imperialist internationalism in Africa. 

Alanna O'MalleyDr O'Malley is a historian interested in the history of the United Nations, decolonization in Africa, Congo, the Cold War and internationalism. She has a B.A. in English and History (2006) and an M.A. in the History of International Relations (2007) from University College Dublin. She completed her PhD at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence with her dissertation on Anglo-American relations at the UN during the Congo crisis 1960-1964.
In 2015 she was awarded the William Appleman Williams Junior Faculty Research Grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) and also won a research grant for her new project on ‘The United Nations and the Rise of the Global South, 1955-1981’ from the Gerda Henkel Foundation in 2015. She will be a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow at the Laureate Research Programme in International History at the University of Sydney in Spring 2017.
Her first book ‘The Diplomacy of Decolonisation, America, Britain and the United Nations during the Congo crisis 1960-1964’ is forthcoming in 2017 with Manchester University Press.

Date, time and location

02 February 2017
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A29 (5th floor)