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The politics of regionalism and federation in East Africa, 1958-1964

Vaughan, CM (2018) The politics of regionalism and federation in East Africa, 1958-1964. The Historical Journal, 62 (2). pp. 519-540. ISSN 0018-246X

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Recent scholarship discussing the ‘federal moment’ in world history after 1945 has re-examined alternatives to the nation-state in the years of decolonisation, arguing against any inevitable transition from empire to nation. This article focuses on the case of East Africa, where federation seemed an attractive and likely prospect by 1963, yet never came to pass. Here the politics of federation should be understood as a constitutive part of the contested nation-state making process, rather than a viable alternative to it. For the leaders who initiated the politics of federation in the 1960s, regional unity promised the further centralisation of power, and a means of defeating tribalist opposition. For their opponents, federation was seized on as a means of promoting the autonomy of provinces or kingdoms within a larger federal unit. Yet ultimately, regionalist aspiration was inseparable from national politics: and negotiations among the leaders of East African states demanded the definition of national interests, which divided states rather than united them. Such conclusions suggest that historians of the federal moment might more productively focus on the functions of federalist discourse in the making of nation-states, rather than debating the viability of federalist projects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2103 Historical Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 09:18
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 09:59
DOI or ID number: 10.1017/S0018246X18000407
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9531
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