Skip to content The Open University

UK Africa Policy after Labour - ESRC Seminar Series

Seminar 1

Contemporary UK-Africa Relations in Historical Perspective

21 January 2014, University of Sheffield

About the Seminar

This seminar inaugurated the ESRC funded series of events (2013-16) on UK Africa Policy after Labour. The intention of this first seminar was to reflect on the history of UK relations with Africa and to identify themes and issues, both enduring and emerging, forming a backdrop for the six subsequent seminars. The main questions considered: What are the key continuities and changes in UK-Africa relations post-Cold War? How have scholars sought to theorise and represent UK-Africa relations historically? How does continuity and change in a contemporary context generate empirical themes and conceptual challenges for analysing UK-Africa relations?

PDF Executive Summary
PDF Seminar Programme

Blog by series team member Dr Steve Hurt

About the Speakers

Richard Dowden, Director, Royal African Society
Contemporary UK-Africa Relations in Historical Perspective

Richard provided the opening address for the series, of which the Royal African Society is a supporter. You can listen to Richard's presentation here.

Panel 1: Reflections on UK Africa relations in historical context

Professor Christopher Clapham, University of Cambridge

A copy of Christopher's paper can be found here and you can listen to the presentation here.

Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

You can listen to Martin's presentation here.

Panel 2: Parties, leaders and UK Africa policy: From Labour to Coalition

Dr Rhiannon Vickers, University of Sheffield

'Labour Foreign Policy and Africa's place in it'

Rhiannon is an expert on Labour Party foreign policy. In this presentation she reflected on the place of Africa in Labour foreign policy, exploring the historical basis of the relationship between the party and Africa and concluding with reflections on current challenges and trajectories. You can hear the presentation here.

Dr Julia Gallagher, Royal Holloway University

'Blair's Africa'

Julia's research explores the role of ideas – and more particularly idealisations – in the international and domestic politics of Africa. She has published a book on UK Africa relations during the Blair era, Britain and Africa under Blair: in pursuit of the good state, (Manchester University Press, 2011). Her presentation updated these themes, looking at British attempts to 'do good' in Africa beyond the Blair governments and considering some key challenges for those attempting to study and understand contemporary UK Africa relations. You can hear the presentation here.

Dr Andrew Mycock, University of Huddersfield

'The Irrelevant Commonwealth? The UK and the legacies of empire in the 21st Century'

Andrew is co-convenor of the Politics Studies Association Britishness Specialist Group. His presentation reflected on the role of the Commonwealth in UK Africa policy, considering whether the Commonwealth is still a relevant and important arena through which to analyse UK Africa relations. His presentation is available here.

BISA
BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group