Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order

Hardcover | September 21, 2012

byRyan M. Irwin

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Writing more than one hundred years ago, African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois speculated that the great dilemma of the twentieth century would be the problem of "the color line." Nowhere was the dilemma of racial discrimination more entrenched - and more complex - than South Africa. This book looks at South Africa's freedom struggle in the years surrounding African decolonization, and it uses the global apartheid debate to explore the way new nation-states changed the international community during the mid-twentieth century. At the highpoint of decolonization, South Africa's problems shaped a transnational conversation about nationhood. Arguments about racial justice, which crested as Europe relinquished imperial control of Africa and the Caribbean, elided a deeper contest over the meaning of sovereignty,territoriality, and development. This contest was influenced - and had an impact on - the United States. Initially hopeful that liberal international institutions would amicably resolve the color line problem, Washington lost confidence as postcolonial diplomats took control of the U.N. agenda. The result was not only America'sabandonment of the universalisms that propelled decolonization, but also the unraveling of the liberal order that remade politics during the twentieth century. Based on research in African, American, and European archives, Gordian Knot advances a bold new interpretation about African decolonization's relationship to American power. The book promises to shed light on U.S. foreign relations with the Third World and recast our understanding of liberalinternationalism's fate after World War II.

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Writing more than one hundred years ago, African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois speculated that the great dilemma of the twentieth century would be the problem of "the color line." Nowhere was the dilemma of racial discrimination more entrenched - and more complex - than South Africa. This book looks at South Africa's freedom strugg...

Ryan Irwin is the Associate Director of International Security Studies at Yale University. He teaches classes on foreign affairs and decolonization and coordinates programs related to Yale's international history program.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 21, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199855617

ISBN - 13:9780199855612

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Table of Contents

Preface and AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Opening the CurtainPart One u Winds of Change1. Architects and Earthquakes2. Defining the Debate3. Africa for the AfricansPart Two u White Redoubt4. Halls of Justice5. The Status Quo6. Looking OutwardConclusion: Toward a New OrderNotesBibliographyIndex