Pan-African Movement

  • Pan-Africanism in the 20th century was a broad political movement comprised of ideologically heterogenous nationalist and internationalist organizations that were loosely connected by the guiding principles of African unity, anti-colonialism, and equal economic and political opportunities. Pan-African networks were crucial in providing strategies, support and often sanctuary for activists across state borders, both during nonviolent and armed struggles for independence. Pan-African networks also played a crucial role after independence with the series of conferences continuing and allowing new elites to cooperate politically and economically which directly lead to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union. Despite the importance of these anti-colonial networks in shaping colonial policies, struggles for independence, postcolonial power relations and inter-state collaboration, they have rarely been considered, especially in quantitative studies on postcolonial African states.


  • The key contribution of our project is to finalize PACD which compiles the complete list of delegates that attended key Pan-African conferences from 1945 to 1963. The collection of this data is motivated by a lack of attention to African anti-colonial activists and networks to explain processes of decolonization and the trajectories of postcolonial states. In fact, while political science research provides many theoretical and empirical approaches to relate colonizers’ characteristics and policies to patterns of decolonization and the emergence of postcolonial states, less research analyses the role of African anti-colonial activists and networks in detail. Thus, our project addresses an important gap in the literature, by enabling researchers to systematically link anti-colonial networks to (post)colonial policies and outcomes.

Working Papers

  • Beiser-McGrath, Janina, Sam Erkiletian, and Nils W. Metternich. Introducing the Pan-African Conferences Dataset.
  • Beiser-McGrath, Janina, Sam Erkiletian, and Nils W. Metternich. The role of Pan-African ideology in ethnic power-sharing.

Data Set

  • Link to open access data will be posted upon acceptance of introductory article.



The Pan-African Conferences Dataset project is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme. Our project seeks to enable a new generation of research that focuses on the role of anti-colonial activists, by finalizing a novel dataset that compiles the complete lists of delegates that attended key Pan-African conferences from 1945 to 1963. This data will allow researchers to trace and analyse Pan-African networks and to leverage variation in Pan-African anti-colonial activism and networks as potential explanatory factors for colonial policies and repression, decolonization processes and postcolonial outcomes.