Defining the Debate

Ryan M. Irwin

in Gordian Knot

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199855612
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979882 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in International History

Defining the Debate

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This chapter examines the contours of the apartheid debate during the early 1960s. It begins with an overview of the tensions between the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), and then explains how both organizations fared in exile after the Sharpeville Massacre. The PAC’s message resonated in 1960 as African nationalists everywhere embraced the anti-apartheid issue—especially at the U.N. General Assembly where the newly formed African Group spearheaded a sanctions campaign against South Africa. Pretoria took this threat seriously. Fearful of revolution at home and divestment abroad, South Africa’s white leaders clamped down on critics and initiated a campaign of political suasion in Washington and London. When placed alongside each other, these duelling efforts hinted at two models of nationhood—specifically racial equality’s conceptual relationship to economic development and territorial autonomy—as well as two different visions of where power was located in the “international community.”

Keywords: Apartheid; nationalism; decolonization; United Nations; United Front; African Group; sanctions; divestment; separate development; Bantustan

Chapter.  14359 words. 

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