The return of the gunboat: British defence policy toward Africa, 1805 - 2005

Jonathan Hill (King's College, University of London)
Anthropology, religion and conflict
Start time:
12 September, 2006 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:


Long abstract:

For politicians and academics alike the attacks of 11 September 2001 finally destroyed the perceived certainties of the Cold War era and ushered in a new global security environment. Instead of fearsomely armed states, Europe and North America believes its principal enemies to be trans-national terrorist networks operating out of fragile and failing states. To combat these enemies, the British government is not alone in instigating fundamental changes to both its defence policy and the structure of its Armed Forces. Yet how original are these changes? Has Britain's defence policy really changed that much? The papers of this proposed panel will address these questions by examining the development of British defence policy toward Africa over the past two centuries. The papers contend that Africa continues to be perceived as a troubled continent, a place of war, famine and strife in need of international help and guidance. Furthermore, that there remains a remarkable consistency in the ways Britain has (and proposes to) deploy its Armed Forces in Africa in pursuit of its objectives. Indeed, despite the important shifts in Britain's defence policy during this period, its view of Africa and responses to it have altered little. The panel's three papers will complement one another by examining British policy during consecutive periods, with paper one focusing on 1805 to 1945, paper two 1945 to 1990 and paper three 1990 to 2005. In this way, the panel will offer a thorough analysis of the continuities and discontinuities of British defence policy toward Africa.