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Race, Ethnicity, and the Cold War
A Global Perspective

Editor(s): Philip Muehlenbeck

The racial front in the global Cold War

A white American woman is raped by a black Panamanian laborer in 1946 in the Panama Canal Zone, and the aftermath affects labor relations in the Western hemisphere for the next two decades. And numerous nations use the African continent to exercise their colonial muscle and postwar power, only to encounter the financial and military burdens that will exhaust and alienate their own citizenry half a world away. As Race, Ethnicity, and the Cold War reveals, during this dangerous era there were no longer any "isolated incidents." Like the butterfly flapping its wings and changing the weather on the other side of the globe, an instance of racial or ethnic hostility had ripple effects across a Cold War world of brinksmanship between bitter national rivals and ideological opponents.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Borders of Race and Nation
Nico Slate

Part I: Race and the International System

Token Diplomacy: The United States, Race, and the Cold War
Michael L. Krenn

A Wind of Change? White Redoubt and the Postcolonial Moment in South Africa, 1960-1963
Ryan M. Irwin

Part II: Race, Ethnicity, and Decolonization

Race, Labor, and Security in the Panama Canal Zone: The 1946 Greaves Rape Case, Local 713, and the Isthmian Cold War Crackdown
Michael Donoghue

Race, Identity, and Diplomacy in the Papua Decolonization Struggle, 1949-1962
David Webster

"For a Better Guinea": Winning Hearts and Minds in Portuguese Guinea
Luís Nuno Rodrigues

Part III: Race and the Interplay of Domestic and International Politics

Testing the Limits of Soviet Internationalism: African Students in the Soviet Union
Maxim Matusevich

Crimes against Humanity in the Congo: Nazi Legacies and the German Cold War in Africa
Katrina M. Hagen

Race and the Cuban Revolution: The Impact of Cuba's Intervention in Angola
Henley Adams

Part IV: Ethnicity and the Interplay of Domestic and International Politics

Ethnic Nationalism in the Cold War Context: The Cyprus Issue in the Greek and Greek American Public Debate, 1954-1989
Zinovia Lialiouti and Philip E. Muehlenbeck

God Bless Reagan and God Help Canada: The Polish Canadian Action Group and Solidarność in Toronto
Eric L. Payseur

Ethnic Nationalism and the Collapse of Soviet Communism
Mark R. Beissinger

Biography of Editor(s)

Philip E. Muehlenbeck, Professorial Lecturer in History at George Washington University, is the author of Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders.


  • " effective and engrossing collection of impressive scholarship on a relatively understudied topic."
    --Journal of Cold War Studies
  • "…the authors included [in Race, Ethnicity, and the Cold War] demonstrate a nuanced understanding of how anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, immigration, and nationalist movements connect to the Cold War histories of peoples throughout the world."
    --Journal of African American History
  • "The collection is a valuable addition to the historiography of the new international history."
    --Social History
  • "Race, Ethnicity, and the Cold War makes it clear that race, and even racism, was not something uniquely afflicting the United States, and that it can be studied in many other societies, and that it had an impact on the foreign policies of these countries."
    --Thomas Alan Schwartz, author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe
  • "By uncovering the transnational history of linkages between race, ethnicity, and global conflict, this volume makes clear that the challenge of grappling with, in Obama's words, our 'teeming, colliding, irksome diversity,' marked not just the United States, but many parts of the world. Perhaps recognizing the global nature of this challenge can serve as one step toward confronting the many boundaries that continue to divide human beings from each other and from our shared history."
    --from the Introduction by Nico Slate, Carnegie Mellon University