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Possibility and peril: Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization

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Possibility and peril : Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization. / McCann, Gerard.

In: Journal of Social History, Vol. 53, No. 2, 27.11.2019, p. 348-377.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Harvard

McCann, G 2019, 'Possibility and peril: Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization', Journal of Social History, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 348-377. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shz099

APA

McCann, G. (2019). Possibility and peril: Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization. Journal of Social History, 53(2), 348-377. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shz099

Vancouver

McCann G. Possibility and peril: Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization. Journal of Social History. 2019 Nov 27;53(2):348-377. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shz099

Author

McCann, Gerard. / Possibility and peril : Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization. In: Journal of Social History. 2019 ; Vol. 53, No. 2. pp. 348-377.

Bibtex - Download

@article{80e377277c954223bbaad79cded97c81,
title = "Possibility and peril: Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization",
abstract = "Trade unionism was at the leading edge of African freedom struggle in the 1940s and 1950s. It was an incubator where different visions of decolonized futures vied for ascendency after WWII. This article analyzes international labor networks and trade union activism in Kenya to explore the entanglements of decolonization and Cold War from Africa in the 1940s to 1960s, an era when competing modes of anticolonial internationalism laid paths to independence. This story is told in two phases. Through Makhan Singh, the article assesses the influence of Indo-African connection, Marxism and the radical left on labor organization over the 1940s. Then, through Tom Mboya, the article charts Kenyan affiliation to the anticommunist International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from the early 1950s. It shows how this internationalist volte-face transformed Kenya{\textquoteright}s trade union landscape, propelled anticolonial agitation and, by the late 1950s, wrought irreparable fractures in fledgling pan-African institutions over the very nature of postcolonialism. The article argues that mobile African labor leaders coproduced, domesticated, and molded Cold War networks—that the conduits of early global Cold War agency ran both ways. Singh and Mboya were interlocutors in pluripotent world conversations marshaled for African decolonization. They also helped delineate the terms of global dialogue at a moment of neocolonial peril and decolonizing opportunity. This calls on historians to define alternative chronologies of globalist possibility masked by the tighter constraints placed on African states in the later twentieth century.",
author = "Gerard McCann",
note = "{\textcopyright} The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher{\textquoteright}s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.",
year = "2019",
month = nov,
day = "27",
doi = "10.1093/jsh/shz099",
language = "English",
volume = "53",
pages = "348--377",
journal = "Journal of Social History",
issn = "1527-1897",
publisher = "George Mason University",
number = "2",

}

RIS (suitable for import to EndNote) - Download

TY - JOUR

T1 - Possibility and peril

T2 - Trade unionism, African Cold War, and the global strands of Kenyan decolonization

AU - McCann, Gerard

N1 - © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

PY - 2019/11/27

Y1 - 2019/11/27

N2 - Trade unionism was at the leading edge of African freedom struggle in the 1940s and 1950s. It was an incubator where different visions of decolonized futures vied for ascendency after WWII. This article analyzes international labor networks and trade union activism in Kenya to explore the entanglements of decolonization and Cold War from Africa in the 1940s to 1960s, an era when competing modes of anticolonial internationalism laid paths to independence. This story is told in two phases. Through Makhan Singh, the article assesses the influence of Indo-African connection, Marxism and the radical left on labor organization over the 1940s. Then, through Tom Mboya, the article charts Kenyan affiliation to the anticommunist International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from the early 1950s. It shows how this internationalist volte-face transformed Kenya’s trade union landscape, propelled anticolonial agitation and, by the late 1950s, wrought irreparable fractures in fledgling pan-African institutions over the very nature of postcolonialism. The article argues that mobile African labor leaders coproduced, domesticated, and molded Cold War networks—that the conduits of early global Cold War agency ran both ways. Singh and Mboya were interlocutors in pluripotent world conversations marshaled for African decolonization. They also helped delineate the terms of global dialogue at a moment of neocolonial peril and decolonizing opportunity. This calls on historians to define alternative chronologies of globalist possibility masked by the tighter constraints placed on African states in the later twentieth century.

AB - Trade unionism was at the leading edge of African freedom struggle in the 1940s and 1950s. It was an incubator where different visions of decolonized futures vied for ascendency after WWII. This article analyzes international labor networks and trade union activism in Kenya to explore the entanglements of decolonization and Cold War from Africa in the 1940s to 1960s, an era when competing modes of anticolonial internationalism laid paths to independence. This story is told in two phases. Through Makhan Singh, the article assesses the influence of Indo-African connection, Marxism and the radical left on labor organization over the 1940s. Then, through Tom Mboya, the article charts Kenyan affiliation to the anticommunist International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from the early 1950s. It shows how this internationalist volte-face transformed Kenya’s trade union landscape, propelled anticolonial agitation and, by the late 1950s, wrought irreparable fractures in fledgling pan-African institutions over the very nature of postcolonialism. The article argues that mobile African labor leaders coproduced, domesticated, and molded Cold War networks—that the conduits of early global Cold War agency ran both ways. Singh and Mboya were interlocutors in pluripotent world conversations marshaled for African decolonization. They also helped delineate the terms of global dialogue at a moment of neocolonial peril and decolonizing opportunity. This calls on historians to define alternative chronologies of globalist possibility masked by the tighter constraints placed on African states in the later twentieth century.

U2 - 10.1093/jsh/shz099

DO - 10.1093/jsh/shz099

M3 - Article

VL - 53

SP - 348

EP - 377

JO - Journal of Social History

JF - Journal of Social History

SN - 1527-1897

IS - 2

ER -