Decolonisation and Cold War in Anti-Communist Asia

An advanced copy of my article for the International History Review was just published online. The article can be accessed here on the website of the IHR (if your institution subscribes; if not get in touch with me). Title and abstract below:

‘The Danger is Two-Fold’: Decolonisation and Cold War in Anti-Communist Asia, 1955–7

This article examines the intersection between the Cold War and decolonisation in anti-Communist Asia in the 1950s. Drawing on the papers of former South Korean President Syngman Rhee housed at Yonsei University, the article explores both the motivations behind as well as the constraints upon South Korea’s efforts to cultivate a military alliance in what it called ‘Free Asia’. Articulating some of the concrete political differences between South Korea and its potential partners in Asia, the article argues that Rhee’s hardline views of the Cold War were interwoven with his ambivalence about Japan’s reintegration in the post-war world. As a result of this intersection between the Cold War and decolonisation, the South Korean President was unable to achieve consensus with the rest of anti-Communist Asia. In exploring this chapter of South Korean diplomacy, the article calls on Cold War diplomatic history to integrate non-Communist Asia and for the historiography of decolonisation to investigate the legacies of Japan’s empire in post-war Asia. It also suggests that scholars ought to reflect more deeply on the interrelationship between the Cold War and decolonisation.

A final note: I blogged about this article not long ago in a post titled “Avoiding the Scoop, Sharing Your Sources,” describing how and why I chose to publish all of the archival sources I used simultaneous with the release of the article.


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