Africa and the First World War

International Network for the Study of the Great War in Africa

Since the end of the 19th century Africa stood out as an agent in the globalization process; acting both as an element of direct action, particularly through the exploitation of its natural resources in the widest sense possible, but also through the unique features of its political situation as regards international relations. During the “Belle Époque” the network of transactions of goods and people had spread considerably, bringing remote and peripheral places, like the African territories, closer to the centre of the world-economy.In 1914 when the First World War started all major European powers, with the exception of the Habsburg Empire, ruled over territories outside Europe. Although most of the clashes have occurred on European soil, the involvement of the African continent played an essential role within the Great War, which was a fundamental expression of the globalization of the conflict: for over four years Africa provided human and material resources on an unprecedented scale to the Western Front. From the “black continent” standpoint, it is worth to note, how the First World War contrasted in terms of objectives, impact, scale and duration with the many conflicts that erupted throughout the nineteenth century, conducted mainly against native populations, and motivated by local and limited objectives.
The first World War represented a defining moment, introducing a profound break in the course of European and global contemporary history, whose rupturing and long-lasting effects significantly involved, marked and influenced the population and the history of all European empires in Africa. Yet, this particular front continues to be one of the less studied aspects of the Great War.

Collaborative research and interdisciplinary exchange among members will be encouraged.

Membership is free.

Maria Fernanda Rollo (IHC – FCSH, UNL)
Ana Paula Pires (IHC – FCSH, UNL)
Contacts: greatwarinafrica@gmail.com

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