Struggle for Another World: Movements Against South African Apartheid and the Global Challenge to Anti-Black Racism, 1971-1991

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gilmore, Glenda


This dissertation narrates the global movement that shook the foundations of the apartheid regime from 1971 to 1991 from the viewpoint of its Black-led multiracial front. Struggle for Another World: Movements against South African Apartheid and the Global Challenge to Anti-Black Racism, 1971-1991 is a transnational history of anti-apartheid movement building in North America, Oceania, Europe, and southern Africa. I explore the international response of grassroots actors and trace their strategies for assembling a movement that challenged the racist and exploitative cornerstones of South African apartheid. In each locale, activists used direct action to have a voice in foreign affairs. Drawing on archival materials from four continents and more than thirty archives in four languages, I chart the call and response of an anti-racist movement that worked to erase global and local color lines drawn by Western settler-colonial states. My dissertation is the first social history of the international anti-apartheid movement to simultaneously chronicle the coalition-building efforts of activists while also highlighting how they fought local forms of racism, sexism, and capitalist exploitation through their anti-apartheid activism. The chapters sample anti-apartheid activism from Durham to Dublin, Amsterdam to Melbourne, London to Los Angeles, and Auckland to Kingston. Across five chapters, I contend that the international apartheid opposition extended the long-standing efforts of the uproarious 1960s movements, and took on new valences as first an anti-racist struggle, but also as a women’s, gay, and Indigenous land rights struggle. In turn, anti-apartheid internationalism became a lifeline for the left as it challenged the transnational rise of conservatism and neoliberalism in the last decades of the twentieth-century. I argue that radical Black diasporic politics animated this New New Left, which fought interlocking forms of oppression. I also trace the maturation of a global Black identity that consolidated solidarities between African, Afro-diasporic, and Indigenous peoples and drew in allied grassroots interests. Black South African exiles, students, workers, artists, and community organizers importantly grew the movement, built coalitions, and amassed political power across racial, ethnic, and class divisions. Reading the local, national, and international registers of the anti-apartheid movement together, I compose the call and response of a multi-valanced global struggle that dialogued directly with South Africa’s internal resistance to isolate the white supremacist regime and erode a world of ubiquitous apartheid and anti-Black oppression.

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