July 6, 2010 Historian Daniel Branch to Discuss "The Airlift: African Students Overseas in the Era of Decolonization," July 28

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

The attendance of African students at universities in North America, Europe and Asia in the 1960s is a significant part of the interlinked histories of decolonization and the Cold War.

Historian Daniel Branch will discuss the topic in his lecture “The Airlift: African Students Overseas in the Era of Decolonization” at the Library of Congress at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

In the 1960s, scholarships were provided to thousands of students from across the continent of Africa. The program is probably best known for bringing President Barack Obama’s father to the United States. The scholarships were intended to lead to much-needed specialist expertise in the public and private sectors of newly independent countries. But the provision of the scholarships and the experiences of the students became matters of political debate in both the host and home countries.

Using Kenyan students in the United States, Soviet Union and China as a case study, Branch will explore the ways in which these students brought into focus debates about race, sovereignty and development in a decolonizing and Cold-War world.

Branch is assistant professor of history at the University of Warwick. After earning his Ph.D from the University of Oxford in 2005, he became a visiting fellow at the Program on Order, Conflict and Violence at Yale University and a lecturer at the University of Warwick. He is the author of “Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya” (2009) and numerous articles on Kenyan history and politics. He is currently completing a book on the political history of Kenya since independence.

The lecture is sponsored by the Kluge Center, in conjunction with the National History Center’s Decolonization Seminar. The four-week seminar, held at the Library, brings together international scholars to examine various dimensions of decolonization, primarily 20th-century transitions from colonies to nations in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The seminar, supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is cosponsored by the American Historical Association and the Kluge Center.

The National History Center promotes research, teaching and learning in all fields of history. Created by the American Historical Association in 2002, the center is a public trust dedicated to the study and teaching of history, as well as to the advancement of historical knowledge in government, business and the public at large. For more information on the National History Center, visit its website External.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit its website.


PR 10-160
ISSN 0731-3527