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Title: Bayard Rustin and the historical geographies of radical pacifism
Author: Hodder, Jake
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 1601
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2014
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The thesis examines the work of American radical pacifists in various international . and domestic contexts in the mid~twentieth century. From the early 1940s a group of pacifists developed an understanding of war as embedded in the racial, national and grossly unequal socio~economic system. Drawing on Gandhism, Marxism and anarchism, they argued that pacifists could no longer refuse to participate in war alone but needed a repertoire of nonviolent, interventionist and obstructionist techniques which could act as a functional substitute for violence in securing social and political· change. The thesis uses episodes from the biography of civil rights and peace activist Bayard Rustin to map the historical geography of radical pacifism across three continents. I argue that radical pacifism was a profoundly racialized and geographical undertaking which helped forge a particular American relationship with the post~war world. At the dawn of the atomic age, radical pacifists became key exponents of a form of 'One Worldism' which sought to emphasize global forms of citizenship and affiliation. By examining radical pacifism within wider geographical literature on internationalism, cosmopolitanism and the global, this thesis enhances our understanding of peace as a spatially constituted process. Moreover, radical pacifists' global vision coalesced with a historical period in which race relations were being transformed on a planetary scale. In adapting an explicitly Gandhian campaign in the American South and exporting it to liberation movements in sub ~Saharan Africa, radical pacifists promoted a global sense of the shared struggle against racial exploitation. By pulling together struggles from Montgomery to Accra experiments in 'revolutionary nonviolence' were always more than a tactical persuasion alone, but also a means to embed and (re )shape racial solidarity itself, often across vast political and geographical distances. Working with the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kenneth Kaunda, Martin Luther KingJr., Jawaharlal Nehru and K wame Nkrumah, radical pacifists like Rustin had remarkable access to some of the leading figures of the twentieth century. Yet, rooted between their tactics and their aspiration lay the spatial paradox of pacifism: the universalism of its One World vision stood in direct opposition to their strategic access to anti~ colonial nationalist movements. The thesis shows how the fortunes of radical pacifists waxed and waned as they came to terms with the disorderliness of politics, place, and the problem of geography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available