UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0023: Confronting the Colossus: US Anti-Imperialism, 1945 - present

***NOT RUNNING IN 2024/25***

Module convenor: Dr Nick Witham


This module examines the history of domestic and international opposition to US foreign policy in the post-World War II period. After a preliminary session setting out the parameters of the module and introducing students to key concepts such as "imperialism", "anti-imperialism" and "solidarity", the course will be structured around eight different flashpoints for anti-imperialist movements in the US since 1945. Classes will cover: the development of "anti-anti-communism" in the early Cold War; black internationalism and its links to domestic Civil Rights; the Fair Play for Cuba movement; opposition to the Vietnam War; the anti-nuclear movement; the Central America solidarity movement; opposition to US complicity in the South African regime of apartheid; and, finally, the alter-globalization movement. The module will conclude with a writing workshop giving students the opportunity to reflect collaboratively on their 4,000-word written assignment.

This module is assessed by a 4,000-word essay.

Introductory Readings

  • Anderson, Perry. "Imperium" in New Left Review II:83 (September-October 2013) pp. 1-71.
  • Foley, Michael S. Front Porch Politics: The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s. New York: Hill and Wang, 2013.
  • Gosse, Van. Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left. London: Verso, 1993.
  • Hostetter, David L. Movement Matters: American Anti-Apartheid Activism and the Rise of Multicultural Politics. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Lewis, Penny. Hardhats, Hippies and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013.
  • Singh, Nikhil Pal. Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.
  • Steger, Manfred B. and Erin K. Wilson. "Anti-Globalization or Alter-Globalization? Mapping the Political Ideology of the Global Justice Movement" in International Studies Quarterly 56:3 (2012) pp. 439-454.
  • Tyrrell, Ian and Jay Sexton (eds.). Empire's Twin: US Anti-Imperialism from the Founding Era to the Age of Terrorism. Ithaca: Cornell, 2015.
  • Von Eschen, Penny M. Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997.
  • Witham, Nick. The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution. London: IB Tauris, 2015.