Over the last 20 years the African continent, particularly the sub-Saharan region, has experienced, with a few exceptions, an increasing marginalization from the main streams of the Global Politics. Within the emergence of the international terrorism, the growth of globalisation, the rise of new economic powers, Africa ranks low in the international attention compared to other areas like Middle East or Asia. Yet, the continent is currently the theatre of some of the most complex conflicts and dramatic humanitarian crises of the contemporary world. The module thus aims at investigating the most important African conflicts since decolonization, providing an historical excursus from the 1960s to present days. The first part of the module will focus on the Cold War period, and will analyse those conflicts, like the Congo crisis or the Angolan civil war, which assumed the features of proxy wars between the Eastern and the Western bloc. The second part of the module will look at the post-Cold War period from the crises of the early 1990s, like the Somali civil war and the Rwandan genocide, to the more recent conflicts in West Africa.
In this historical excursus the lectures will stress particularly the international dimension of these conflicts alongside with their local roots. In this regard, special attention will be devoted to the role played by the end of the Cold War in changing the nature and the dynamics of wars in Africa.
The aims of this module are to:
- Provide a general overview of the main conflicts which have interested the African continent since decolonization
- Identify the political and military regional dynamics of these conflicts, as well as their broader international dimension.
- Stress the changes of this global-local interaction throughout the Cold War and the post-Cold War period and the way in which these changes have affected the African continent’s stance in the international system and global politics.
At the end of the module students will:
- Acquire knowledge of the main issues at the root of most of the conflicts in Africa during the 20th century, particularly those problems linked to decolonization, ethnical clashes and racial segregation, territorial and border disputes.
- Understand the main features of the Cold War in Africa, and of the role played by the African regional conflicts in the global dynamics of the bipolar conflict
- Critically assess in term of continuity-change the way in which the systemic global transformation brought about by the end of the Cold War has affected the nature of the African conflicts and the role of the continent in the international system.
- Understand the current most relevant African conflicts and crises, as well as their strategic implications and connections to the most prominent global security challenges of the post-Cold War and post 9/11 world, particularly insurgency and terrorism.
*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.
Dr. Flavia Gasbarri*
Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.
Module assessment - more information