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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 May 2024

Lydia Walker
Ohio State University


States-in-waiting are territories that claimed statehood but had not (yet) received independence. By foregrounding the nationalist insurgent movements that arose from these regions, States-in-Waiting illuminates the un-endings of decolonization – the unfinished, messy, and improvised way that the state-centric system of international order replaced empire. Nationalist claimants from communities left out of the global order (as it was radically expanded by decolonization) were forced to work through unofficial channels to advance their claims in international politics. Therefore, the ambiguous and at times unreliable role of their advocates, the intermediaries they used to navigate these channels, highlighted the uncertainties of the transitions from empires to states. This uncertainty, and the political weakness of particular nationalist demands, left certain claimants seemingly perpetually awaiting international recognition.

A Counternarrative of Global Decolonization
, pp. 1 - 26
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024
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This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

 They brought in their dead by night
   the brave beloved of the gods
  to rest under her troubled skies
  their proud and mighty warriors
that some corner of a vanquished field
   may stay forever Nagaland.
 There were some in foreign lands
 who still spoke of Kelhoukevira
while her fields lay barren and desecrated
 her songs sacrificed to the wind
 and her warriors to the great spirit.
  They trampled her silent hills
 and squeezed the life out of her
 and washed their hands in her blood.
Easterine Kire, “A Lament for Nagaland,” in Kelhoukevira

In 1951, the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru allegedly gave a signed blank check to the leader of the nationalist movement for an independent Nagaland, Angami Zapu Phizo. Nagaland, a remote state-in-waiting in the Himalayan foothills, sits at a strategic junction between India, China, and Burma.Footnote 1 After Indian independence from Britain in 1947, Nagas sought their own independence from India. Nehru, eager to quell agitation for a separate state within his own state, attempted to bribe Nagas into acquiescence to Indian rule by asking their leader to name his price. But Phizo refused to sell the Naga claim of independence. Instead, he turned to insurgency and eventual exile, first in Pakistan and then in London, where he arrived in 1960 seeking international support for his people’s struggle. Phizo’s family preserved the blank uncashed check as an emblem of perceived Indian perfidy and their own resistance to it. Following Phizo’s death in 1990, his family feared losing their home in London due to foreclosure. Therefore, they enlisted the aid of David Ward, a Western advocate for Naga nationalist claims-making, who stepped in to save the house’s contents, including family papers and the blank check.Footnote 2

David Ward was born in Assam (a neighboring territory to Nagaland), the son of a Scottish tea planter. Sent to a British jail for robbery, and with time on his hands, Ward discovered the poetry of Easterine Kire.Footnote 3 Ward was so inspired by Kire’s poetry that, once released from prison, he traveled illicitly to Nagaland. There, he enlisted in the Naga cause. He was eventually captured by the Indian military and deported to Britain.Footnote 4 According to Naga accounts, Ward never returned the Phizo family documents that were transferred to him for temporary safekeeping after Phizo’s death. Repeatedly in the decades since 1990, Naga representatives have asked Ward to return those materials, which they consider their founding documents, their national patrimony; as of this writing, he has not done so.Footnote 5

Regardless of the collection’s status, the story of Nehru’s check remains a powerful symbol to Nagas – of their nationalist claim, of Indian deceit in attempting to compromise them, and of hope placed in a providential Western advocate and then dashed by his abandonment. It is a Naga national embarrassment with imperial overtones that an outsider apparently possesses some of the founding documents of a state-in-waiting in Southern Asia and has not returned them. The absence of this archive raises the question of who owns the historical record of a territory that has claimed independence but has never received international recognition.

This narrative of betrayal and disappearance within Nagaland’s attempt to become independent is an example of the hidden dramas of postwar decolonization. In the decades following the Second World War, and accelerating in the early 1960s, many states across the colonial world shook off imperial rule. The roads to national independence for postcolonial states such as India, Ghana, and Algeria are well known and well told. In contrast, stories that highlight little-known regions, marginalized individuals, hidden or lost archives, and the connections that form the analytical links between them produce the narrative of decolonization presented in States-in-Waiting.Footnote 6 In this narrative, the international ramifications of the Naga pursuit of independence unfolded not only in Phizo’s original journey from Pakistan to London, or in the coda of the missing papers decades later. Through the activities of international advocates working on behalf of nationalist claimants, the plot also crossed to the African continent, the epicenter of decolonization in the 1960s, where other states-in-waiting sought international recognition for their demands of independent statehood, utilizing similar – or sometimes even the very same – unofficial advocates as did the Nagas.

The relationship between claims-making and its advocacy, which provided representation and political support from those unaffiliated with official spheres of state governments or international institutions was central to the struggle that states-in-waiting waged for national liberation. This relationship was a mutually reinforcing as well as an undermining dynamic: nationalist claimants who had not yet achieved international-legal recognition for their territories relied on advocacy in order to access spheres of government and international power. Such reliance also made particular advocates influential, enabling them to, for example, testify before the United Nations. Yet the dependence of states-in-waiting upon such advocates, especially when protracted, underscored the lack of autonomy of particular nationalist claims. Independence required independence from advocacy, a fact to which advocates themselves were not always attuned. States-in-Waiting untangles the tensions inherent in the relationship between nationalist claims-making and its international advocacy, as well as the contradiction between decolonization’s promise of national liberation and its practice of limiting whose claims of statehood received international recognition. Those whose claims did not, lost not only statehood – they also lost the chance to build national archives, canons of founding figures, and even the opportunity to become a recognized field of historical inquiry.

December 1960 closed the “Year of Africa” at the United Nations, when seventeen countries received independence. That same year, Phizo arrived in London and Naga nationalist claims-making entered international politics. Since India served as a model and symbol of “peaceful,” “successful” national liberation and postcolonial world leadership,Footnote 7 Naga nationalist claims for independence from postcolonial India forced many of the advocates who had supported India’s decolonization to confront the complicated issue of self-determination for minority peoples within new postcolonial states.

The early 1960s was a political moment when the global potential for national liberation seemed strongest, yet the United Nations only recognized nationalist claims that arose from the dissolution of European empire, not those that would alter the borders of newly independent states, such as the Naga claim. Therefore, when Phizo reached London and a Western audience, his demand for Naga independence became a tricky issue for the only people who would listen: a network of advocates – missionaries, anthropologists, journalists, peace and civil rights activists, political economists – who saw themselves as brokers of decolonization and conduits for the politically voiceless. Those advocates also relied on their connections with Indian and other postcolonial state governments to achieve their aims.

This transnational advocacy delivered informal representation for nationalist movements that did not have access to formal political forums in the United Nations’ state-centric system of international order. Advocates were spokesmen and women for nationalist claims, gatekeepers to international politics, and key intermediaries to circles of power and finance. They saw national liberation struggles as linked to the civil rights movement in the United States and as one among many humanitarian issues that merited extra-governmental intervention. In States-In-Waiting, I argue that advocacy, however necessary to the pursuit of sovereignty, was incompatible with sovereignty once it was achieved. Leaders of postcolonial states knew this. When nationalist movements became postcolonial state governments, in part with the aid of advocacy – India (1947), Zambia (1964), Namibia (1990), among many others – they disavowed the process that had helped empower them, ignoring, breaking with, and even deporting their former advocates after their states had achieved independence.

The relationship between nationalist claims-making and its international advocacy illuminates how nationalists themselves, whether successful or otherwise in their state-making, operated within an international context. For Naga nationalists, a sense of connection and belonging to a wider international community grew from notions of a Christian universalism, a result of large-scale conversion instigated by American Baptist missionaries in Nagaland from the 1880s to the 1940s.Footnote 8 States confronting nationalist demands within their borders made travel, reporting, and mail delivery as difficult as possible for people residing in these territories. For peoples such as Nagas – living in the periphery’s periphery, in regions only lightly connected to their ruling capital let alone to global centers of power – connections with and through advocacy and religious networks allowed them to see themselves as integrated into an international order, even when that order had established no means of recognizing their claims of autonomy. Petitioning the United Nations was not only a weapon of the weak; it was an appeal to a higher power, toward a universal aspiration of global belonging. Chief Hosea Kutako, who petitioned the United Nations for two decades through the use of advocacy on behalf of an independent South West Africa/Namibia, referred to international law as “God’s Law.”Footnote 9

In contrast to its preceding system of international order, the League of Nations – which had included a Mandate System and Minority Protections Regime for the former territories of the German, Ottoman, and Habsburg empires – the United Nations lacked a forum for hearing the political claims of peoples until the 1990s.Footnote 10 Unlike the League, the UN did not have institutional mechanisms in place to “see” certain dependent peoples as potential political subjects of international law, a reason why it can be considered a more limited international order than its predecessor.Footnote 11 As studies identifying the restrictions of the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights (1948) have shown, the types of rights that the UN institution chose to recognize, while the subject of fraught debate, ended up being considerably circumscribed, though the most contentious rights were socioeconomic rather than political.Footnote 12 At the same moment that the UN General Assembly affirmed the norm of self-determination in its declaration of December 1960, the institution, as it grew with new members, became both inclusively and exclusively state-centric – inclusive in that it encompassed almost all new states, exclusive in that the only political unit it recognized was that of the state.Footnote 13

Within the Interstices of International Order

States-in-Waiting is a connective history rather than a comparative set of case studies.Footnote 14 The Naga claim provides the narrative frame because it illustrates the limit to international advocacy on behalf of nationalist claims-making. As a claim from a region far from both its ruling capital (New Delhi) as well as from global centers of power and governance (such as New York or London), Naga nationalist claims-making relied on an attenuated advocacy network of only a few key individuals, rendering the intersection of claims-making and its advocacy clearly trackable. The Namibian nationalist claim, which achieved independence only in 1990, serves as both an analogue and a contrast to the Naga claim. The former had a much longer history of international petitioning – one that had inspired Phizo’s efforts on behalf of Naga independence – and it entered a new phase in 1966, when the International Court of Justice failed to rule on its claim to national self-determination.Footnote 15 The massive political transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1960s – centered around the Congo Crisis, the breakup of the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and the emergence of Dar es Salaam as a hub for anticolonial nationalism – made that region the center of gravity and activity for a range of nationalist movements, and therefore ground zero for nationalist claims-making.

The question of states-in-waiting – of territories with nationalist claims that had not (yet) received international recognition and therefore were termed “minority,” “subnational,” “tribal,” or “indigenous” nationalisms – challenged the United Nations as both an institution (meaning the bureaucracy set up in San Francisco in 1945 with a charter and committee structure) and as a system of international order (meaning the political organization of the postwar world reshuffled by decolonization). The UN institution came to have a vested interest in maintaining the legitimacy and territorial integrity of its new member-states. This legitimacy was granted through the UN order, in which national recognition was confirmed by a seat in the General Assembly, crafting a type of self-referential sovereignty. The claims of states-in-waiting to be nation-states had no place in either the UN institution or the UN order, and therefore had the potential for upsetting both UN arrangements.

States-in-waiting relied on international advocacy to advance their nationalist claims, and international advocates connected many of these nationalist claims to each other. Therefore, States-in-Waiting follows the rise and demise of a particular transnational advocacy network during the height of nationalist possibility in the early 1960s.Footnote 16 The advocates in this network – particularly its leaders Abraham Johannes (AJ) Muste of the United States, Jayaprakash (JP) Narayan of India, and Michael Scott of Britain – were individuals who had extensive experience with international peace politics dating from the Indian independence movement.Footnote 17 With the advent of 1960s decolonization, they decided to channel their activism into an organization, the World Peace Brigade, whose aim was to make sure that decolonization escaped its “entrapment in violence.”Footnote 18 Because this network grew out of the international peace movement and had been involved in the nonviolent activism working for Indian independence and US civil rights, States-in-Waiting emphasizes the role of peace politics during decolonization. However, it is important to underscore that most nationalist claimants faced degrees of violence – at times extreme – from their ruling authorities and engaged in it themselves.

This violence and the threat of violence drew the attention of the international peace movement. The World Peace Brigade launched a project in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, in 1962 in order to channel the forces of national liberation into peaceful postcolonial states. This first endeavor of the Brigade, the Africa Freedom Action Project, advocated on behalf of the neighboring state-in-waiting of Zambia and its leader Kenneth Kaunda. During this period the Brigade also worked to undermine the legitimacy of Katanga, a state-in-waiting in Southeastern Congo, arguing that its nationalist claim was a cover for neocolonialism and “made Western democracy look like a giant runaway circus calliope.”Footnote 19 Katanga also had its own, contrasting network of advocates – one that was stridently anticommunist.Footnote 20 The intersection between nationalist claims–making and its international advocacy showcases the conflict and connections between different claims and multiple networks. These networked connections operated though the interstices, the unregulated spaces, of the United Nations: since neither claimant nor advocate officially represented a recognized state government, they lacked access to most official forums, unless brought forward by a UN member state.

Studies of the nationalist struggles of the Kurds, Tibetans, and Palestinians, of Biafra, of Western Sahara, of West Papua, among many others, show the important role that international advocacy (also called “rebel” or “insurgent diplomacy”) played in promoting the aspirations of a range of nationalist movements that did not achieve independence during the postwar era.Footnote 21 Nationalist claims moved, mutated, were actualized, and dissolved through networks of advocacy. As the operations of the World Peace Brigade make clear, these networks were full of internal disagreements on tactics, focus, and ideology, especially as they confronted the dilemma of how to support liberation movements seeking independence from recently decolonized states. For example, the Brigade community’s efforts on questions involving African decolonization relied on the support of Indians in government and in international civil society.Footnote 22 Therefore, the Naga claim, as a nationalist claim within India, eventually fractured the Brigade’s network and showed the limits of transnational activism when it confronted state sovereignty.

From the perspective of nationalist claimants, international recognition for national self-determination was essential to their political survival. Writing to his nephew in January 1960 while stuck in East Pakistan, Phizo knew that the Naga people needed to be recognized as sovereign to be recognized at all: “[A]ny organization without a sovereign territory cannot be articulately universal in its human scope. … Whether we call it a political aim or national ideology, it makes very little difference.”Footnote 23 Global decolonization made the nation-state the legitimate form of international recognition for a people’s claim of resistance against oppression. Phizo and other nationalists recognized this political reality. Their advocates, who also participated in struggles for political justice within states and across national boundaries, did not. They were interested in how a Nagaland could be a “test case” for how to answer the question that minority peoples within new postcolonial nations posed to the postwar international order.Footnote 24 Their criticism was directed at how India ruled Nagaland, not that India ruled Nagaland.

As this analytical separation indicates, nationalist movements may have relied on international advocates, but the two groups often did not share the same end goals. Over the long term, these political divergences increased and hampered advocacy’s effectiveness. Decolonizing empires often had elaborate plans for federation-type structures in which minority interests would have had greater representation.Footnote 25 These plans were abandoned by decolonizing states, to a large degree because of the (often correct) suspicion of soon-to-be independent and newly independent elites that such plans could be the thin end of the wedge of neocolonialism, using minority concerns to preserve enclaves of colonial influence – a fear that drove the UN’s intervention against the secessionist Congolese province of Katanga (1960–1962).Footnote 26

The early 1960s was a period of rapid regime change and promise for decolonization’s liberatory potential. After the fact, advocates of states-in-waiting realized that they had actually had an extremely limited temporal window in which to act.Footnote 27 Katanga’s secession in July 1960, was “the point where the ‘wind of change’ [of decolonization] began to veer,” according to Katanga’s UN envoy, a friend and colleague of World Peace Brigade members.Footnote 28 From some perspectives, the window of political opportunity of the early 1960s was closing at the same time that it opened.

Decolonization and its international-legal recognition of former colonies as postcolonial states solidified the nation-state as the unit of political organization and appropriate container for sovereignty. The United Nations expanded rapidly as it recognized more and more new postcolonial states; in the process, the institution came to have a stake in the importance of international-legal sovereignty as a defining feature of national sovereignty and to control the granting of it.Footnote 29 In circumstances that reinforced the UN’s own authority, the UN could patrol international-legal sovereignty from the outside, and at the decision of the departing colonizer, particular colonies would be passively and peacefully assigned independence. Such was the situation of the British High Commission Territories of Basutoland/Lesotho, Bechuanaland/Botswana, and Swaziland/Eswatini (as of 2018) – all granted independence in 1966. However, what of less ideal circumstances? Naga nationalists wondered, If Zanzibar could claim statehood,Footnote 30 if Rwanda, Burundi, or Gambia could do soFootnote 31 – why not Nagaland?

The short answer to “Why not Nagaland?” was India, since that country was not going to voluntarily recognize a new state within its own national borders, especially when Nagaland epitomized India’s many “fissiparous tendencies” – its regional, ethnic, and religious autonomous demands.Footnote 32 Naga nationalists grasped the precarity of their claim given Nagaland’s geopolitical position. Therefore, they attempted to internationalize the Naga claim and to place it in the context of the rapidly decolonizing African continent of the early 1960s – a context in which the feasibility of their claim seemed more reasonable – rather than within the regional context of a Southern Asia that had already decolonized.

It was not accidental that Nagas made analogies to nationalist movements on the African continent and not to groups closer to home with similar aims, such as Tibetans, other Hill peoples in the Indian Northeast, Bengalis in East Pakistan, or the multitude of communities (including Nagas) across the border in Burma.Footnote 33 The window of nationalist possibility of the early 1960s, with all its constraints, opened on to the African continent, not on to the disputed regions of “upland South East Asia.”Footnote 34

When chronicling the month-to-month political fluctuations in the early 1960s, “decolonization” can seem to be an anachronistic term, carefully denuded of the moral valence of “national liberation” or “nationalist revolution” – the words in general use at the time among both supporters and opponents of decolonization. At that moment, decolonization was not referred to as “decolonization” by Anglophone politicians: British prime minister Harold MacMillan rather obliquely referred to the “wind of change.” The Kennedy administration in the United States used the Wilsonian language of “national self-determination,” a word choice that elided issues of violence and the need for external recognition (often from the US government).Footnote 35 “Self-determination” emphasized that it was the people who determined their own political status; while “international recognition” underscored the role played by the foreign policies of powerful states to determine and affirm the borders of the political unit in question.

Nationalists from the decolonizing world talked about “national liberation,” and their international advocates referred to the “struggle for independence,” “world development under world law,” or “world revolution.”Footnote 36 In the early 1960s, most people actively involved in or sympathetic to decolonization-the-process did not use the term itself to describe it.Footnote 37 They preferred terms that signaled their political orientation. During its contemporaneous moment, the word “decolonization” rendered the transformation of empires into states an agentless and bloodless process, deemphasizing the determination and action of the individuals and groups who drove that transformation and, thereby, obscuring the accountability of those who fought for and against anticolonial nationalism.

National independence did not simply involve flipping a “sovereignty” switch from colony to state; it entailed a set of negotiations with no predetermined result. Yet such negotiations consistently produced unitary nation-states as the successors to empires, while alternative postcolonial political forms, whether those of federation or secession (with a few important exceptions), were either unrealized or short-lived.Footnote 38 Secession and federation were not necessarily mutually exclusive or incompatible with decolonization. Katanga, which attempted to secede from Congo-Leopoldville during this period of heightened national possibility, proposed several alternative models: a federated Congo along the lines of the US Articles of Confederation,Footnote 39 a federated Copperbelt state with Northern Rhodesia,Footnote 40 as well as an independent Katangese nation-state.Footnote 41 None of these alternative political forms achieved international recognition because the United Nations, at the invitation of newly independent Congo-Leopoldville and with US financial and political backing, launched an armed intervention to prevent their occurrence. The UN as an institution of international order had a stake in empowering and protecting the boundaries of its members.

From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, the UN General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, on “special political and decolonization matters,” was the institution’s most active committee and housed the Committee on South West Africa, which was the international forum for Namibian nationalist claims-making.Footnote 42 The Fourth Committee was so active during the 1960s because it was the venue that both the United States and the Soviet Union chose to handle the process of decolonization. The USSR first proposed and sponsored the UN General Assembly’s December 1960 “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”; the Committee on Decolonization was set up under Indian chairmanship to implement that declaration. Footnote 43 (After John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, US foreign policy played a supportive role regarding the Declaration on the Granting of Independence.) The Fourth Committee and its Committee on Decolonization were the chosen destinations for nationalist claimants and their international advocates. However, these committees were established to address the claims of peoples within empires, not within states.

Who had access to the UN’s Fourth Committee and thus the potential of international recognition was a matter determined by the states who made up the institution. Soviet pressure on China regarding Mongolia led to the UN’s recognition of statehood for Outer Mongolia, while the lack of such explicit, powerful backing for Tibetan independence forced Tibetans to remain a humanitarian concern. There was no universal agreement on which people comprised a nation, or on which nation deserved a state: India assisted in the creation of an independent Bangladesh (though it is striking how long it took New Delhi to actively support East Bengali nationalist insurgents), and Biafra had a few state-government proponents, though much of its backing came from humanitarian-oriented non-state actors.Footnote 44 Yet these counter-examples still demonstrate the constraints on state sponsorship for nationalist movements that sought to revise existing national boundaries.

Into the seeming political flexibility of decolonization, Cold War polarity appeared to impose a strict division between the free world and communist totalitarianism, or between capitalist exploitation and fraternal socialism, depending upon one’s political outlook.Footnote 45 Yet these binaries generally did not reflect the interests or concerns of most of the nationalists discussed in States-in-Waiting, or of those of their advocates in the international peace movement who perceived themselves to be nonaligned. However, Cold War binaries shaped how nationalists made and mobilized their claims, and the political pathways to which advocates had access. In this way, the Cold War became a trap that limited the horizons of nationalist possibility even for those who claimed, and sincerely believed themselves, to be neutral during the Cold War.

During the Cold War era, the Soviet Union’s fears concerning its own nationality questions caused it to generally block minority nationalisms from international forums.Footnote 46 This Soviet absence made Washington’s official support for national self-determination, however lukewarm, crucial for how minority nationalists – particularly those whose nationalism had religious components (as for Nagas and Tibetans) – made and framed their claims. The advocacy network that formed the World Peace Brigade and supported particular nationalist claimants in the decolonizing world of the early 1960s was composed of American, British, and Indian members of an international civil society community who worked on issues of political justice within and across national borders.Footnote 47 Their nongovernmental organizations received funding directly and indirectly from the Central Intelligence Agency and Anglo-American multinational corporations. This web of funding did not make them stooges of US power, of which they were sincerely critical; however, their perceived utility to US power projection indicated forms of ideological alliance, whether or not individual advocates considered themselves supportive of US interests or were even aware of the source of their funding. That is how US hegemony operated – not as omnipotent, but as inescapable.

Religion, particularly but not exclusively Christianity, played a role baiting the Cold War trap.Footnote 48 Almost all nationalists and their advocates in States-in-Waiting were religious, though not of the same faith, creed, or denomination.Footnote 49 A shared language of faith and a practice of appealing to members of faith communities pervaded nationalist claims-making and its advocacy, aligning these projects with ideological elements of US hegemony even when the US government ignored the actual claims.Footnote 50 Religious networks also created forms of belonging, connection, and affinity that did not move through states, creating useful political pathways for claimants who lacked international recognition.

The processes of claims-making and advocacy relied on and reified the individual – whether as nationalist leader or international advocate – as the agent of political change, not the collective, with its socialist undertones. Religion, individualism, and financial connections pulled particular nationalist claimants and their advocates into the realm of US power projection, even as their activities often (but not always) had very little to do with formal US foreign policy. Histories of international relations that deal with US power usually make it their primary point of focus. While understandable because of the superpower status of the United States, this emphasis can obscure the actual workings of US hegemony. For histories of international order and its limits after 1945, US foreign relations (in all their multiplicity) does not have to be its chief subject for a study to demonstrate their pervasive effects. That is how hegemony, as indirect domination, works.

Throughout the 1960s, independence for many new states looked very different as the decade progressed from 1961 (Tanganyika) to 1962 (Algeria) to 1964 (Zambia) to 1966 (Lesotho). The pressure of time, and the increased visibility of the limits of many new postcolonial governments, shrunk optimistic hopes about the possibilities of national liberation. When Lesotho became independent in 1966, the political economist and international advocate Winifred Armstrong sent a series of letters to its new national government. As in the manner of many advocates, she wrote these letters in a personal capacity but while employed by (and using the letterhead of) AMAX, the American Metal Climax mining company, a US multinational corporation with operations and subsidiaries in Katanga, in Zambia, and in South West Africa.Footnote 51 One of Armstrong’s letters of “congratulations” read:

I’m not quite sure what to say at this point, but I feel a definite need to write you at this moment of history. I’d like to share rejoicing, offer congratulations, and extend my deepest hopes for your personal and national fulfillment – certainly this hope unqualifiedly! But I know that feelings are mixed on the occasion of Basutoland’s [Lesotho’s] independence just now, perhaps the best I can hope is that history, with your help, will justify the rejoicing and congratulations.Footnote 52

Armstrong’s qualifications to her congratulations to Lesotho hinted at the limits of Lesotho’s new sovereignty: congratulations on “independence” while it remained a landlocked labor reserve surrounded by apartheid South Africa. These remarks show how advocates as well as nationalists were well aware of the challenges facing new postcolonial states and the restrictions on national liberation even – or most especially – at the moment of independence. Tragedy, or its potential, hovered behind moments of national success.Footnote 53 As a mode for understanding geopolitical transformation, tragedy shatters narratives of progress or nostalgia.Footnote 54 At the same time, it can foreclose change or hope – outcomes that would be anathema to the nationalists and their advocates who dedicated their lives and careers in pursuit of independence.

Organization of the Book

Transnational advocacy networks are loosely organized international civil society organizations, networks of individuals working in non-state capacities (though often involved in their own state’s politics and policies) tackling problems that have been deemed outside of state-to-state relations.Footnote 55 Nationalist movements are non-state actors who have a connective non-state archive, located in the papers of the individuals and organizations who participated in, were sympathetic to, or closely tracked their aims. This archive’s placement and composition depict the results of advocacy’s operations, producing a source base that privileges the role of advocates, whose papers often provide the most accessible, documented record of nationalist claims, more so than those of the nationalist claimants themselves or those of the states that controlled their territory. This asymmetry of sources reflects the imbalanced relationship between nationalist claims-making and its international advocacy, and became a defining feature for a state-in-waiting.Footnote 56

Focus on the state-making attempts of non-state actors can seem to reinforce definitions of “state” and “non-state” in the global history of decolonization. However, that distinction did not neatly map onto the activities of nationalist claimants who sought statehood while remaining outside an international order made up of states that they hoped to belong to if they achieved their aims. Nor did the dividing line between realms of “state” and “non-state” hold for international advocates who moved between spheres of government, civil society, international institutions, and corporations. The advocates who populate this narrative – the American political economist Winifred Armstrong, the wealthy British newspaper editor David Astor, the Indian Gandhian civil-society leader Jayaprakash Narayan, the Indian peace activist Suresh Ram, the US civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, the British anti-apartheid activist Michael Scott, the pan-Africanist and US civil rights activist Bill Sutherland, the American anthropologist Laura Thompson, among others – worked to legitimize nationalist leaders in international politics. Prospective national leaders such as Angami Zapu Phizo (Nagaland), Mburumba Kerina (Namibia), Moise Tshombe (Katanga), and Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia) made use of the prestige, connections, and expertise of advocates. If or when they became the leaders of actual state governments, as Kaunda did, they broke with their former advocates because the advocacy that had empowered their ascent to power had the potential to undermine their regimes once their governments were ensconced.

Following the networked activities of nationalist claimants and their international advocates, States-in-Waiting charts the rise and fall of an advocacy network that became the World Peace Brigade, framed by the attempted internationalization of the Naga claim from 1960 to 1966. These two histories are set against the broader context of global decolonization – of nationalist possibility and its constraints in the postwar era – playing out simultaneously on the African continent. Chapter 1, “Sovereignty in the Hills,” relates the history of Naga nationalism from the China-Burma-India theater of the Second World War, to the Naga declaration of independence the day before India gained its independence in August 1947, to the subsequent Indian counterinsurgency operations against the Naga nationalists. One group of Nagas sought an accord with India, driving the leader of the nationalists, Angami Zapu Phizo, to seek international support to combat those negotiations.

Stymied by the Indian military and moderate Nagas who sought a settlement with India, Naga nationalists looked for international support. Chapter 2, “Advocates of Not-Quite Independence,” relates Phizo’s journey from Nagaland to London, where he placed the Naga claim within the context of African decolonization and reached out to the advocate Reverend Michael Scott because of Scott’s role as an international spokesperson for Namibian nationalist claims-making. This chapter analyzes the role of missionaries, activists, anthropologists, and journalists as intermediaries between nationalist movements and international politics, as well as the contentious friendships between Indian politicians and Western advocates who worked together on African decolonization questions. Chapter 2 closes with the attempt of Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), an Indian advocate for African nationalist movements, to turn Scott away from work on behalf of the Naga claim and toward their shared advocacy for African decolonization by inviting him to a peace conference in India.

Chapter 3, “The Anti-Algiers,” opens with the peace conference that Scott and JP attended from December 1960 to January 1961. At this conference, organized by the War Resisters International and held at the ashram of Gandhigram, outside Madras, Scott, JP, and their colleagues decided to create a “World Peace Brigade”: a nongovernmental advocacy organization run by JP (who was also a disciple of Gandhi), Scott, and A. J. Muste. Its first project was in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, in 1962. There, at the invitation of Julius Nyerere (then prime minister of Tanganyika and, later, the president of Tanzania, its successor state), Brigade members Suresh Ram, Bayard Rustin, Bill Sutherland, and Scott supported Kenneth Kaunda’s claim for an independent Zambia. This chapter shows how the Brigade tried to make Dar es Salaam the anti-Algiers: its headquarters for channeling decolonization’s “wind of change” into peaceful, anticommunist, postcolonial states. However, anticolonial nationalist guerrilla camps encircled Dar es Salaam, undermining the Brigade’s pacific state-building.

The Brigade’s efforts on behalf of Zambian state-making became enmeshed in the dynamics of the African Copperbelt – a zone of copper deposits and associated mining interests stretching between Zambia and Katanga – particularly in the international and regional dynamics surrounding Katanga’s secession and the UN intervention to prevent it. Chapter 4, “The Spectre of Katanga,” considers how the Congolese province of Katanga served as the ultimate example of illegitimate nationalism and of the potential failure of decolonization when not guided into the “correct” political shape. The Brigade’s advocacy against Katanga and its supporters at the UN and elsewhere precipitated the American Metal Climax mining company’s (AMAX) decision to back Kaunda in neighboring Zambia. This chapter shows how Katanga’s secession led the UN and its Euro-American backers to fear that the “wrong kind” of decolonization would undermine new postcolonial states.

The political climate of Katanga’s secession also influenced AMAX to give forms of private support to the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), which became the dominant Namibian nationalist group. Chapter 5, “Capital and Claims-Making,” focuses on Namibia/South West Africa, showing how, due to the presence of multinational mining interests, the advocacy networks that connected Southern Africa to international politics were much thicker and more complex than those that stretched toward Northeast India. This chapter demonstrates how, while they may not have always agreed with each other, activists and nationalists worked with corporations that supported particular nationalist claimants. Capital as well as claims flowed through advocacy networks.

After its work to prevent Katanga’s secession and to support Zambia’s independence, the World Peace Brigade turned its attention toward Asia, particularly the contentious relationship between India and China. Chapter 6, “Marching into the Great Wall of State,” narrates the Brigade’s second project in the recently decolonized world, a planned Delhi-to-Peking Friendship March, which could not cross the border because the Chinese government would not provide visas. Brigade members disagreed about whether an ostensibly apolitical, pacifist endeavor could – or should – have leaders who supported particular nationalist movements in India (Scott for Nagaland) and China (JP for Tibet), movements whose claimed territory bordered the march’s route. By detailing these disagreements, Chapter 6 describes the contradictions that arose between transnational advocacy and nationalist claims-making on behalf of states-in-waiting: the nationalist movements that worked with advocates in pursuit of independence broke with them if and when they achieved statehood. The transnational activism that had supported their ascent to government now provided alternative sources of political mobilization that could counter state power.

Chapter 7, “Postcolonial Imperialism,” picks up at the point when the World Peace Brigade’s Friendship March was forced to halt (in Ledo, Assam), in January 1964. Three weeks later, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council invited JP and Scott to form a peace mission in order to turn a ceasefire between Naga nationalist insurgents and the Indian government into a lasting peace. This chapter details the mission’s negotiations and disputes over definitions of “national” and “non-national” sovereignty. Eventually, due to a lack of trust on all sides, the mission dissolved after JP resigned and the Indian government deported Scott. This chapter explains how Scott’s deportation in May 1966 marked the end of an era for nationalist claims-making and its international advocacy, an era that began in 1946 (before India was yet independent) when the Indian Mission to the United Nations allowed Scott to speak as part of their delegation.

By foregrounding the issue of nationalist claimants within postcolonial states, States-in-Waiting shows how the norm of national self-determination, declared and accepted by the UN General Assembly in 1960, did not meet the actual practice of international recognition. In political practice, international recognition favored communities that had mobilized earlier under empire, that had already begun to take over the infrastructures of authority under colonial rule, and that had acquired leverage with the colonial power (such as in India); or, alternatively, that had the militarily strength and regional allies to command the primacy of force when colonial powers withdrew (as in Algeria). In either process, successor regimes were able to secure the acquiescence – forced or grudging – of their departing colonizer and its Great Power allies (usually but not exclusively the US) on their route to international recognition. The contradiction between self-determination and international recognition as a sovereign state arose for communities with national aspirations who mobilized toward the end of empire or were considered by both colonizer and successor states to be incapable of the development and “civilization” necessary for self-rule.Footnote 57 Their route to recognition was much more logistically difficult, and opposing them were the interests of the emergent postimperial order, an order that denied recognition to what it considered to be the subunits, or even the vestiges, of the old colonial system.

Postcolonial state leaders denounced the aspirations of “minority” nationalists, as Nehru did, on the grounds of “balkanization” or argued that “backwards” and “tribal” peoples were incapable of their own national development.Footnote 58 While unofficial advocates and the informal political representation they provided were these groups’ best – at times seemingly the only – avenue to international recognition, the asymmetries of power and the dependent relationship of advocacy hindered the scope and legitimacy of these intermediary allies. The constraints on nationalist claims-making and its international advocacy show not only the complexity of decolonization but also its limits. Halted journeys, stalled endeavors, refused hearings, deportations, and exiles – these disappointments all express the parameters of what is a legitimate national claim, who can provide recognition, and the process in which recognition may or may not be achieved.

In May 1971, against the background of postcolonial secession crises in Biafra and Bangladesh, Michael Scott outlined the type of history he wanted to see written of decolonization:

History is still needed of the widely different forms which the “struggle for independence” took … especially the advantages and setbacks in the pursuit of constitutional change and the negotiated “settlements” by other than guerilla warfare … All these have to be researched in archives and specialist academic studies … There is the need for an impartial study of the part played by voluntary non-governmental organizations during the intensely transformative period after the Second World War and the birth and early influence of the United Nations.Footnote 59

What follows in these pages is the history Scott thought he wanted written. It is not necessarily a narrative that is particularly kind to him. Nevertheless, it is a story that centers him, the network he belonged to, and the causes to which he dedicated his life. This is not simply a recovery project of a previously unwritten history. It is a counternarrative of decolonization from the vantage of the individuals – nationalists and their advocates – who knew that process most intimately because they navigated through it. Their journeys, exiles, and deportations illuminate the histories of states not made, and states in the making, of States-in-Waiting.


1 The opening is by Easterine Kire [Iralu], “A Lament for Nagaland,” in Kelhoukevira: A Volume of Poetry in English (Kolkata: J. B. Lama, 1982). Regarding the terminology of Burma: In 1989 the ruling government of Burma changed its name to “Myanmar.” Since the events of States-in-Waiting mostly occur before that date and its actors use the name “Burma,” I have followed their practice.

2 Author interviews with Kaka Iralu (a nephew of Phizo who was a Naga intellectual and activist) and Kolaso Chase (a public spokesman for the Naga Nationalist Council), December 25, 2018, Medziphema, Nagaland, India. Kaka Iralu passed away on April 4, 2020.

3 Easterine Kire is the first Naga to publish her poetry and literature in English.

4 “From Robber to Indian Rebel Fighter, Scot Arrested on Charges of Raising Funds for Separatists,” Herald (Scotland), July 29, 2003. Available at Ward travelled to India and was detained by the Indian government at least twice, in 1992 and in 2003.

5 The Phizo family collections in Ward’s possession have been the subject of negotiations between Naga scholars, overseas representatives, and in-country representatives, a process in which the author has been adjacently involved. As of this writing, there is no proof that the collections still exist, or, if they do, in what manner.

6 In States-in-Waiting, “decolonization” refers to a set of global events where territories that had been ruled by empire became independent states during the twentieth century, at an increasing pace in the decades after the Second World War. “Decolonization” as a remaking or reconstitution of sociopolitical systems emanating from regions in the postcolonial world to challenge, circumnavigate, and confront the colonial legacies of political disenfranchisement and economic extraction is another use of the term from the field of postcolonial studies. Examples include Gayatri Spivak, “The Rani of Simur: An Essay in Reading in the Archives,” History and Theory 24, no. 3 (1985): 247–72; Ania Loomba, “Overworlding the ‘Third World,’” Oxford Literary Review 13, no. 1 (1991): 164–91; Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, “Beyond the Coloniser’s Model of the World: Towards Reworlding from the Global South,” Third World Quarterly 44, no. 2 (2023): 1–17.

7 With the strategic omission of Partition. It is also important to note the limits of Nehru’s practical (rather than rhetorical) support for anticolonial nationalism during global decolonization; see Pallavi Raghavan, Martin J. Bayly, Elisabeth Leake, and Avinash Paliwal, “The Limits of Decolonisation in India’s International Thought and Practice: An Introduction,” International History Review 44, no. 4 (2022): 812–18; Itty Abraham, “From Bandung to NAM: Non-alignment and Indian Foreign Policy, 1947–1965,” Journal of Comparative and Commonwealth Studies 46, no. 2 (2008): 195–219.

8 John Thomas, Evangelising the Nation: Religion and the Formation of Naga Political Identity (New Delhi: Routledge, 2016).

9 Meeting with Hosea Kutako and SWAPO,” Windhoek, May 15, 1962. UN General Assembly Report of the Special Committee for South West Africa, September 20, 1962. BB/1000 National Archives of Namibia (hereafter “NAN”). Regarding the terminology of “South West Africa” versus that of “Namibia,” the UN General Assembly adopted the name “Namibia” in 1966. Mburumba Kerina (a South West African/Namibian nationalist) allegedly coined the name “Namibia” in conversation with Sukharno (the first president of Indonesia, and a leader of its struggle for independence) sometime between 1960 and 1961; by 1962 many Namibian nationalists used it, but it was not agreed upon by all. I use the terms “Namibia” and “South West Africa” in an analytical rather than strictly chronological context.

10 For minority protections, see Carole Fink, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878–1938 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). For the mandate system, see Susan Pedersen, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), and Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui, Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-Determination in International Law (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

11 Mira L. Siegelberg, Statelessness: A Modern History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020); Natasha Wheatley, “New Subjects in International Law and Order,” in Internationalisms: A Twentieth-Century History, ed. Patricia Clavin and Glenda Sluga (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 265–86; Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).

12 Elizabeth Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005); Bradley Simpson, “The United States and the Curious Descent of Self-Determination,” Diplomatic History 36, no. 4 (2012): 675–94; Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York: Random House, 2002); Olivier Barsalou, “The Failed Battle for Self-Determination: The United States and the Post-War Illusion of Enlightened Colonialism, 1945–1975,” in The Battle for International Law: South–North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era, ed. Jochen von Bernstorff and Philipp Dann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

13 “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,” UN General Assembly Resolution 1514, December 14, 1960. Available at

14 Richard Drayton and David Motadel, “Discussion: The Futures of Global History,” Journal of Global History 13, no. 1 (2018): 3.

15 Peoples from South West Africa began petitioning the League of Nations during the interwar era, protesting South African rule; see Tilman Dedering, “Petitioning Geneva: Transnational Aspects of Protest and Resistance in South West Africa/Namibia after the First World War,” Journal of Southern African Studies 35, no. 4 (2009): 785–801. For the International Court of Justice’s 1966 ruling, see South West Africa, Ethiopia v. South Africa, Second Phase, [1966] ICJ Rep 6, ICGJ 158 (ICJ 1966), July 18, 1966, International Court of Justice. Available at

16 The term “transnational advocacy network” was coined by Margaret Keck and Katherine Sikkink, Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998).

17 On the complexities of Gandhian anti-imperialism and its international dimensions, see Nazmul S. Sultan, “Moral Empire and the Global Meaning of Gandhi’s Anti-imperialism,” Review of Politics 84, no. 4 (2022): 545–69.

18 Albert Bigelow, “Some Reflections on the Conference to Establish the World Peace Brigade,” 1961, World Peace Brigade North American Regional Council Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society (hereafter, “WPB NARC”).

19 J. P. Narayan, Michael Scott, and Bill Sutherland, World Peace Brigade Report, World Peace Brigade submission to the UN Committee on Colonialism, p. 3, June 5, 1962, File 443, J. P. Narayan Papers, Nehru National Memorial Library, New Delhi, India (hereafter, “NNML”). A “calliope” is a carnival musical steam organ.

20 Josiah Brownell, Struggles for Self-Determination: The Denial of Reactionary Statehood in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

21 Alex de Waal, “Genealogies of Transnational Activism,” in Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism, ed. de Waal (New York: Zed Books, 2015), 22–27; Paul Chamberlin, The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Lasse Heerten, The Biafran War and Postcolonial Humanitarianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Stephen Zunes and Jacob Mundy, Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2010); Tracey Banivanua Mar, Decolonisation and the Pacific: Indigenous Globalisation and Ends of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Emma Kluge, “West Papua and the International History of Decolonization, 1961–1969,” International History Review 42, no. 6 (2020): 1155–72; Quito Swan, “Blinded by Bandung? Illumining West Papua, Senegal, and the Black Pacific,” Radical History Review 131 (2018): 58–81.

22 For an overview of the concept of international society and its civil (or non-state) dimensions, see Erez Manela, “International Society as a Historical Subject,” Diplomatic History 44, no. 2 (2020): 184–209.

23 A. Z. Phizo to Challe Iralu, January 2, 1960, Box 41, Laura Thompson Papers, National Anthropological Archives, the Smithsonian, Washington, DC.

24 David Astor to J. P. Narayan, August 6, 1960, Box 5, Guthrie Michael Scott Papers, the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University (hereafter “GMS Papers”).

25 David R. Syiemlieh, ed., On the Edge of Empire: Four British Plans for North East India, 1941–1947 (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2014), 134, 136, on British plans for keeping parts of the Indian Northeast under British control after Indian independence, including perhaps as a Mandate. On European, Asian, African, and Eurasian pre- and postcolonial alternatives, see Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Post-Imperial Possibilities: Eurasia, Eurafica, Afroasia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2023). For a synthesis of anticolonial federation projects, see Merve Fejzula, “The Cosmopolitan Historiography of Twentieth-Century Federalism,” Historical Journal 64, no. 2 (2022): 1–24.

26 Katanga’s secession was halted in 1962, while the first UN intervention in Congo continued until 1965.

27 Michael Scott letter to the Times (London), August 15, 1970, on Hosea Kutako’s death, Box 5, GMS Papers.

28 Conor Cruise O’Brien, introduction to Rosalynde Ainslie, The Unholy Alliance: Salazar, Verwoerd, Walensky (London: Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1962), 4.

29 Stephen D. Krasner, “The Hole in the Whole: Sovereignty, Shared Sovereignty, and International Law,” Michigan Journal of International Law 25, no. 4 (2004): 1075–102.

30 “Kedahge’s Address” makes this comparison; undated, probably 1964, Box 17, GMS Papers. (“Kedahge” is the title of “president” for Naga nationalists.) Perhaps Zanzibar, forcibly absorbed by Tanganyika into Tanzania in 1964, was not the best example to propose.

31 A 1965 untitled pamphlet produced by the Department of Geography and Anthropology, University of Heidelberg, makes this comparison. Box 28, GMS Papers.

32 Nehru speech, Srinagar, Kashmir, July 19, 1961, in Jawaharlal Nehru Selected Speeches, vol. 4 (New Delhi: Government of India Publications Division, 1964).

33 The Naga areas of Burma would join the theoretical independent state of Nagaland in some (but not all) Naga nationalist imaginaries.

34 Term popularized by James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010).

35 This is an after-the-fact label, since Woodrow Wilson himself did not describe self-determination as specifically national. Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 25–26.

36 Draft book description for a proposed history of the Africa Bureau, 1971, Box 97, GMS Papers. Winifred Courtney, “Kennedy’s New Frontier,” Africa South in Exile 6, no.1 (1961): 102–10.

37 Stuart Ward, “The European Provenance of Decolonization,” Past and Present 230 (2016): 228–31, charts the intellectual history of Atlantic world political thinkers’ use of “decolonization,” as well as the critique and reappropriation of the word by Kwame Nkrumah and Frantz Fanon. On interwar Black Atlantic anticolonial political thought, see Musab Younis, On the Scale of the World: The Formation of Black Anticolonial Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2022).

38 On the Central African Federation, Ismay Milford, “Federation, Partnership, and the Chronologies of Space in 1950s East and Central Africa,” Historical Journal 63, no. 2 (2020): 1325–1348. For Atlantic world African and Caribbean federations and proposed federations, Adom Getachew, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019), 107–14. For a comparative focus of ideas of both external and internal federation in both South Asia and Africa, see the following articles in Ab Imperio, Issue 3 (2018): 31–113: Karuna Mantena and Sama Sundari Mantena, “Introduction: Political Imaginaries at the End of Empire”; Sundari Mantena, “Anticolonialism and Federation in Colonial India”; Kavita Saraswathi Datla, “Sovereignty and the End of Empire: The Transition to Independence in Colonial Hyderabad”; and Getachew, “Securing Postcolonial Independence: Kwame Nkrumah and the Federal Idea in the Age of Decolonization.”

39 Brian Urquhart, Hammarskjöld (New York: Norton, 1994), 392.

40 George Ivan Smith to David Owen, Report on Nyasaland and Rhodesia, p. 5, June 1, 1962, Box 125, Andrew Wellington Cordier Papers, Columbia University.

41 Erik Kennes and Miles Larmer, The Katangese Gendarmes and War in Central Africa: Fighting Their Way Home (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).

42 M. J. Peterson, “General Assembly,” in The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, ed. Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Daws (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 105. For overviews of the United Nations’ role in facilitating decolonization, see Kal Raustiala, The Absolutely Indispensable Man: Ralph Bunche, the United Nations and the Fight to End Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022) and Amy L. Sayward, The United Nations in International History (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).

43 A/4501, Request for the inclusion of an additional item in the agenda of the 15th regular session: item proposed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, September 23, 1960, United Nations Digital Library.

44 Srinath Raghavan, 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013); Arua Oko Omaka, The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970, International Human Rights and Joint Church Aid (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016). France and Francophone Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia were Biafra’s strongest backers. Crucially, the Organization of African Unity refused to recognize Biafra because, as with the UN, its member states generally did not (and do not) support secessionist movements. Lasse Heerten and A. Dirk Moses, “The Nigeria–Biafra War: Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide,” Journal of Genocide Research 16, no.2/3 (2014): 174–75. For the state-making of a vanished country, see Samuel Fury Childs Daly, A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020).

45 Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Westad, The Cold War: A World History (New York: Basic Books, 2017).

46 On the nationality question in the USSR, see Krista A. Goff, Nested Nationalism: Making and Unmaking Nations in the Soviet Caucasus (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2021) and Yuri Slezkine, “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review 53, no. 2 (1994): 414–52. This meant that, under Stalin, minority questions were couched and responded to in terms of cultural development. Ironically, the USSR had tried to make minority protections a part of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, in its push for economic and cultural rights, as part of the Soviet policy of managing minority questions by placing them within non-national spheres. “Study of the Legal Validity of the Undertakings concerning Minorities,” UN Document E/CN.4/367, April 4, 1944. UNGA Resolution 217 C (III). Fate of Minorities, document A/RES/3/217 C, December 10, 1948. In the 1950s, the USSR brought anticolonial nationalists from Asia and the African continent to observe the “good” conditions of Soviet minorities in Central Asia and Siberia, promoting the Soviet way of handling minorities as a model for new postcolonial states: John David Skrentny, The Minority Rights Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 59.

47 The national composition of this community presented a challenge to their international aims, an issue that emerged when community members attempted, in an organized project, to walk from India to China, as described in Chapter 6. The Brigade was also constrained by linguistic boundaries since it did not have the money (for translation) or infrastructure to operate outside of English (Arlo Tatum, secretary of the Preparatory Committee for the World Peace Brigade to James Lieberman, December 5, 1961, Box 45, Devi Prasad Papers, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam). The Brigade community was one of many transnational advocacy networks during global decolonization; for example, Salar Mohandesi, Red Internationalism: Anti-imperialism and Human Rights in the Global Sixties and Seventies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), chronicles the shifts in the global antiwar movement in response to the US war in Vietnam.

48 Anna Su, Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), 114–15, describes how the US weaponized religion, particularity Christianity, during the Cold War. For a general overview, Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (New York: Random House, 2012), 418–40. On the multiple and counterintuitive relationships between Christianity and decolonization, see Elizabeth Foster and Udi Greenberg, eds., Decolonization and the Remaking of Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023).

49 The absence of Muslims in the Brigade community (predominantly Anglican, Quaker, Hindu, and Buddhist) is striking. Muslims during the Cold War were often coded as “communists”; see Samuel Moyn, “From Communist to Muslim: European Human Rights, the Cold War, and Religious Liberty,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 1 (2014): 63–86.

50 Examples of US government rejection: United States Department of State Memorandum of Conversation, “Naga Struggle Against India,” August 5, 1958, RG 59/250/49/19/02 Entry 1330, Lot File 62D43, Box 23, US National Archives, College Park, MD. John Dugard, ed., The South West Africa/Namibia Dispute: Documents and Scholarly Writings on the Controversy Between South Africa and the United Nations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 532.

51 While Armstrong’s AMAX records do not show that it had mining interests in Katanga, scholars and activists with deep experience on the issue, such as Elizabeth Schmidt and William Minter, believe otherwise. (Author conversation with Schmidt, June 25, 2015). Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2013), 60–69, and Minter, King Solomon’s Mines Revisited: Western Interests and the Burdened History of Southern Africa (New York: Basic Books, 1984), 47–50, cover American mining interests in Katanga without naming AMAX specifically (as Minter does in regard to Namibia).

52 Winifred Armstrong to Moshoeshoe II, September 30, 1966, Box 2, Winifred Armstrong Papers, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

53 Bill Schwarz, “Decolonization as Tragedy?,” in History after Hobsbawm: Writing the Past for the Twenty-First Century, ed. John H. Arnold, Matthew Hilton and Jan Rüger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 96–118.

54 David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 166.

55 Manela, “International Society as a Historical Subject,” 184–209; Sidney Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

56 For Naga nationalism, the Indian state record remains virtually closed; and although there are extensive Indian Home Ministry files on Nagaland (transported from the Ministry of External Affairs after 1974), these are not currently open to researchers. Personal papers of individual Indian politicians at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, T. N. Kaul, Y. D. Gundevia et al., contain useful correspondence. The Assam State Archives has pre-1963 records from their Tribal Affairs Department that contain reports about the movements and actions of Naga “hostiles.” While the libraries of the Naga Baptist Church and the personal collections of individual Naga nationalist insurgents contain important material, it is the records of their primary advocate, Michael Scott (UK), and to a lesser extent those of an early supporter, Laura Thompson (US), that hold the most complete record. Collections include those of: Nagaland Baptist Church Council, Kohima, Nagaland; Council for Baptist Churches in Northeast India, Guwahati, Assam; Zapuvise Lhousa Papers, Mezoma, Nagaland; VK Nuh Collections, Dimapur, Nagaland; Guthrie Michael Scott Papers, the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University; Laura Thompson Papers, National Anthropological Archives, the Smithsonian, Washington, DC. For Namibia, independent as of 1990, their national archives are valuable for tracking UN deliberations and commentary, as well as for oral histories of Namibian nationalists, but remain effectively closed regarding the records of their primary nationalist organization, SWAPO, now the country’s ruling party, while collections of their Western advocates, such as the interview collection of the researcher Tony Emmett at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, tell a more fully documented story.

57 For Namibia, Germany was the colonizer and South Africa, the successor state.

58 Louis Mountbatten (last Viceroy of British India): “It was at Nehru’s own request that I removed the choice of independence in the case of Bengal and other provinces to avoid ‘Balkanization.’” Viceroy’s personal report, no. 8, June 5, 1947, quoted in Elisabeth Leake, The Defiant Border: The Afghan Pakistan Borderlands in the Era of Decolonization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 94. Jawaharlal Nehru: “Nagas have no such background or sensation [of modernity] and we have to create that sensation among them”: Nehru to Bishnuram Medhi, May 13, 1956, Bishnuram Medhi Correspondence File 1, NMML.

59 Michael Scott, personal notes, May 1971, Box 97,GMS Papers.

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  • Introduction
  • Lydia Walker, Ohio State University
  • Book: States-in-Waiting
  • Online publication: 09 May 2024
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  • Introduction
  • Lydia Walker, Ohio State University
  • Book: States-in-Waiting
  • Online publication: 09 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI:
Available formats