SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Lissoni, Arianna (2008) The South African Liberation Movements in Exile, c.1945-1970. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (8MB)


This thesis focuses on the reorganisation in exile of the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) of South Africa during the 1960s. The 1960s are generally regarded as a period of quiescence in the historiography of the South African liberation struggle. This study partially challenges such a view. It argues that although the 1960s witnessed the progressive silencing of all forms of opposition by the apartheid government in South Africa, this was also a difficult time of experimentation and change, during which the exiled liberation movements had to adjust to the dramatically altered conditions of struggle emerging in the post-Sharpeville context. The thesis traces the roots and early history of the international networks of solidarity between South Africa and Britain from the time of the 1945 Pan African Congress to the founding of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1960. It proceeds to examine the first attempts by the South African liberation movements to set up an external presence through the South African United Front, the causes of its demise and its legacy in terms of future unity. The establishment of the external mission of the ANC, its activities, and its relationship with host African countries vis-a-vis that of the PAC are analysed in detail. The research then focuses on problems of representation emerging from the gradual take-over of the ANC external mission as the sole representative of the whole of the Congress Alliance as a result of the Rivonia raid and trial. It is suggested that the internal debate between the ANC and its allies, most notably the South African Communist Party, signal a transition from the multi-racial approach of the 1950s to the creation of a unitary, non-racial liberation front. Issues of strategy and tactics arising from the decision to embark on a path of armed struggle in the early part of the decade are also analysed, including the state of affairs within the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and the complex relationship between military and political structures. Finally, the parallel development of the PAC in exile is reviewed, and some of its distinctive features are compared and contrasted to those of the ANC.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item