APWH: Post-WWII/Cold War Decolonization

Posted on May 6, 2020

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Just a note: AP Exams begin next week and you need to focus on reviewing for those, not on new work. This class is going to shift entirely to a no-new classwork policy starting today. I will continue to post informational materials because knowledge is power, and if you have questions or comments about the material, please ask in the comments.

After WWII and the fight against the Nazis was done, European powers realized that holding on to pre-war colonial possessions was a little hypocritical (to say the least) and expensive (to say the truth). Many withdrew from Africa and Asia, giving space for new countries like Israel to form in the Middle East, a proxy-war to overtake Vietnam, and for African countries to work through many issues.

When the Europeans left Africa specifically, they had a habit of having an attitude of “we gave you schools and infrastructure, so be happy and figure your own problems out” – and occasionally you will see that attitude still today. The “problems,” of course, were from the Europeans not understanding traditional tribal boundaries and conflicts. Many ethnic groups were forced to exist together in colonies where traditionally they would not, and Europeans exploited this by playing both sides off of each other in order to maintain power. They needed to strengthen their holds by giving the appearance of local support.

When the Europeans left, they obviously didn’t care about that but the resentments still remained within the countries. Add to the fact that former colonists interfered in new politics (see the last chapter of King Leopold’s Ghost) and you have an economic, social, and political situation that reverberates even today.

Please view the following videos on decolonization. Your assignment is to work on the practice DBQs if you have not done so yet so I can score them and give feedback, and please to e-mail me with whatever review questions you have.

(Not everything was awful!)