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A ‘‘Bit of a Politician’’ on a ‘‘Tough Assignment’’: Robert Birley’s Visiting Professorship at the University of Witwatersrand, 1964 – 1967.

Feather, DJ A ‘‘Bit of a Politician’’ on a ‘‘Tough Assignment’’: Robert Birley’s Visiting Professorship at the University of Witwatersrand, 1964 – 1967. Diplomacy and Statecraft. ISSN 0959-2296 (Accepted)

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Abstract

In January 1964, Robert Birley, former headmaster of Eton College, was appointed as a visiting professor at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. This article analyses how Birley used this role, and his relatively secure position as a high-profile British figure, to speak out against the apartheid state. Birley’s professorship took place during a time of strained Anglo-South African relations; having become a republic and left the Commonwealth in 1961, it appeared that South Africa was slipping ever further from the ‘British world’. To combat this, the British government attempted to use cultural diplomacy, particularly in the form of academic and educational exchange, to imbue future leaders with a more positive view of Britain. This article demonstrates that while Birley’s professorship was independent from this policy, he was in regular contact with British officials, and his actions correlated with their aims.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1606 Political Science, 2103 Historical Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Routledge
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2021 09:41
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2021 09:45
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15140

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