A postcolonial analysis of Cuban foreign policy towards South African liberation movements, 1959-1994

Sarmiento, Oddveig Nicole (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a postcolonial analysis of Third World foreign policy, looking at an atypical case of state relations with national liberation movements. It is also an empirical contribution to an area of recent South African history through interrogating Cuba’s foreign policy towards South Africa’s liberation movements from 1959 until 1994. My starting point has been that meagre scholarship exists within the field of International Relations on this important area of South African history and on Cuban foreign policy. Mainstream scholars have largely overlooked relations between the Cuban state and civil society and liberation movements such as the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and Umkhonto we Sizwe. By interrogating an ignored area of Third World foreign policy, this thesis furthermore aims to probe into the field of International Relations and analyses of foreign policy. Applying the methodology of a postcolonial theoretical critique, I highlight the ontological assumptions within the field that make theorising foreign policy from states and societies in the Third World peripheral within IR, as well as render states and civil society in the Third World as objects rather than subjects of the theoretical endeavour. The conceptualisation of the Cold War as a mere Superpower affair, with states in the Third World as mere sites of conflict between the Superpowers and divorced from the causal dynamics of the conflict, exemplifies the ontological assumptions that exist within the field of International Relations theory. I use the case study of Cuba’s foreign policy towards South African liberation movements in carrying out a qualitative analysis of the available literature and well as conducting interviews with senior participants of South Africa’s various liberation movements. A broad reconstruction of relations between 1959 and 1994, as well as post-1994, reveals extensive relations between Cuba and South African liberation movements involving the Cuban state and civil society. The findings of my research include an overview of relations between Cuba and various liberation movements at the political and military level, as well as the role of Cuban civil society in areas such as education and strengthening the role of women in the liberation struggle. Respondents reveal that relations between the two spheres are not uni-directional, but in fact reveal a complex interaction in which the agency of South Africa’s liberation movements in determining the content of relations is central. In conceptualising foreign policy using a postcolonial theoretical framework, I look not only at the Cuban state but also at the role of civil society in Cuba in constructing and carrying out foreign policy towards South African liberation movements. This theoretical framework rejects a strict dichotomy between the foreign and the domestic by looking at social forces within the state as well as the role of ideology in the making foreign policy domestically. Lastly, the extensive relations between Cuba and South African liberation movements that my research reveals points to possibilities for further theoretical investigations within the field of International Relations from a postcolonial theoretical critique.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis is ‘n post-koloniale analise van Derde Wêreld buitelandse beleid, dit kyk na die atipiese geval van staats verhoudinge met nasionale vryheidsbewegings. Dit is ook ‘n empiriese bydrae tot ‘n area in onlangse Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis deurdat dit Kuba se buitelandse beleid teenoor Suid- Afrikaanse vryheidsbewegings tussen 1959 tot 1994 ondervra. My beginpunt is dat daar skamele vakkundigheid tans bestaan binne die studieveld Internasionale Betrekkinge met betrekking tot hierdie belangrike area van Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis en Kubaanse buitelandse beleid. Hoofstroom deskundiges hanteer tot ‘n groot mate die verhoudinge tussen staat en burgerlike samelewing van Kuba met vryheidsbewegings soos die African National Congress, die Suid-Afrikaanse Kommunistiese Party, die Congress of South African Trade Unions en Umkhonto we Sizwe met min aandag. Deur hierdie geïgnoreerde area binne Derde Wêreld buitelandse beleid te ondervra, is dit ook ‘n verdere oogmerk van hierdie tesis om die vakgebied van Internasionale Betrekkinge en die gepaardgaande analises van buitelandse beleid te ondersoek. Deur die toepassing van die metodologie van post-koloniale kritiek, beklemtoon ek die ontologiese aannames binne die vakgebied van Internasionale Betrekkinge wat die teoretisering van buitelandse beleid van state en samelewings in die Derde Wêreld marginaliseer, asook om hierdie state en burgerlike samelewings in die Derde Wêreld tot objekte in plaas van subjekte van ‘n teoretiese onderneming te reduseer. Die konseptualiseering van die Koue Oorlog as bloot ‘n supermag aangeleentheid, met state in die Derde Wêreld as blote ligging vir konflikte tussen die supermagte asook terselfdertyd vervreemd van die oorsaaklike dynamiek van die konflik, beliggaam die ontologiese aannames wat binne die vakgebied van Internasionale Betrekkinge bestaan. Ek maak gebruik van Kuba se buitelandse beleid teenoor Suid-Afrkaanse vryheidsbewegings as gevallestudie om ‘n kwalitatiewe analise te maak op die bestaande literatuur asook om onderhoude te hê met senior deelnemers in Suid Afrika se verskeie vryheidsbewegings. ‘n Uitgebreide rekonstruksie van verhoudinge tussen 1959 en 1994, sowel as post-1994, openbaar diepgaande verhoudinge tussen Kuba en Suid-Afrikaanse vryheidsbewegings wat die Kubaanse staat en burgerlike samelewing behels. Die bevindinge in my navorsing sluit in ‘n oorsig van verhoudinge tussen Kuba en verskeie vryheidsbewegings op politiekeen militêre vlak asook die rol van Kubaanse burgerlike samelewing in areas soos opvoeding en die verstewiging van die rol van vroue in die vryheidstryd. Respondente openbaar dat verhoudinge tussen die twee sfere nie in een rigting geloop het nie, maar dat dit eintlik ‘n komplekse interaksie openbaar in wie die agentskap van die Suid-Afrikaanse vryheidsbewegings om die inhoud van die verhoudinge te bepaal ‘n sentrale deel speel. Deur buitelandse beleid te konseptualiseer deur gebruik te maak van ‘n v post-koloniale raamwerk kyk ek nie net bloot na die Kubaanse staat nie, maar ook na die rol van die Kubaanse burgerlike samelewing in die konstruksie en uitvoering van buitelandse beleid teenoor Suid- Afrikaanse vryheidsbewegings. Hierdie teoretiese raamwerk verwerp ‘n eng tweeledigheid tussen die buitelandse en binnelandse deur te kyk na die sosiale magte binne die staat sowel as die rol van ideologie in die binnelandse skepping van buitelandse beleid. Ten slote, die diepgaande verhoudinge tussen Kuba en Suid-Afrikaanse vryheidsbewegings wat my navorsing openbaar dui in die rigting van moontlike verdere teoretiese ondersoeke binne die vakgebied van Internasionale Betrekkinge vanaf ‘n perspektief van post-koloniale kritiek.

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