Decolonizing Which Atlantic?: South Africa, Namibia, and El Salvador During the 1980s

Southern Africa’s decolonization and anti-apartheid efforts were necessarily transnational. While the Black Atlantic connected Africa to the Americas through ties of blood, the ‘Red Atlantic’ conceptualized through recent scholarship, bound together ideologues engaged in similar-seeming liberation struggles during the Cold War. In the wake of non-alignment and Jace Weaver’s conception of an indigenous American Red Atlantic, however, the term remains problematic. Yet it offers a starting point for discussion on South-South interactions. “1980s: South Africa, Namibia, and El Salvador” outlines connections between southern African liberation movements and Central American ones, utilizing African National Congress/South West African People’s Organization relations with El Salvador’s Frente Faribundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional as a case study. This differs from previous studies of southern Africa as a recipient of Cuban or North American aid and argues that liberation movements legitimized themselves through providing logistical solidarity to leftist movements in the Americas. As decolonization took place during a Cold War context, so did the emergence of neo-colonialism and proxy war. This paper will provide an opportunity to investigate South-South relationships between decolonized and still-colonized members of the non-aligned world.

About the Author

Myra Ann Houser

I currently serve as assistant professor of history at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, USA. I received my Master’s degree in comparative history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and PhD in African history from Howard University in 2014. Currently, I teach courses on Africa and Latin America. My research has focused on connections between southern African liberation movements and American social movements, and I have authored book chapters and publications in Atlantic Studies, Human Rights Review, and various professional blogs.


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