The Origins of the Global South since 1955

Tutor: Gerard McCann

Module type: MA Option

Module code: HIS00045M

Credits: 20

From our viewpoint in the early twenty-first century, it appears that major changes in the world order unravel. Dramatic transitions – the astounding economic growth of China and India particularly – suggest that a number of countries of the so-called ‘global south’ will enjoy unprecedented agency in shaping world affairs in the coming decades. Nations of the south boldly challenge the architectures of geopolitical and geoeconomic power, and in very different circumstances than those prevailing during the Cold War. Solidarity between former colonised and/or poorer nations of Africa and Asia (and to some extent Latin America) is not new. Whilst the nature of relations within the neoliberal world have altered dramatically, the rhetoric underpinning today’s partnerships is of historical continuity. Since the 1950s, progressive actors around the world celebrate beneficial outcomes of more assertive and organised southern collectives. But, scholars and activists also interrogate the tensions of postcoloniality and the conceptual vocabulary of such southern solidarities.

Do the terms ‘third world’ or ‘global south’ obscure more than they reveal if we consider that a Singapore and a Cuba should fit together within them? How does contemporary Chinese investment in African oilfields square with assertions of equitable partnership? This module explores the complex origins of the global south and third worldist conviviality through a number of pertinent themes – non-alignment, the international economy, cultural connections – and through case studies focused across Africa and Asia. This course considers the contested globalist past of our globalist present.

Seminar topics may include:

    • Decolonisation and the Bandung movement
    • Non-alignment and the global Cold War
    • The developing world and the international economy
    • The global south and the United Nations
    • Literature, culture and the Afro-Asian moment
    • India and the third world
    • Africa and the third world
    • What was the 'third world'? What is the 'global south'?

Preliminary Reading

    • Prashad, Vijay. The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World. New York: New Press, 2007.
    • Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
    • Lee, Christopher J. (ed.). Making a World after Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010.
    • Tomlinson, B. R. "What was the Third World?" Journal of Contemporary History 38, no. 2 (2003): 307–321.