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Blackface at War: Pseudo Gangs and the Pleasures of Counter-Insurgency

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Friday, December 06, 2019
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12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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Luise White, University of Florida
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New Directions in African History

Since the late 1940s, a specific set of tactics - intelligence gathered by small groups in which regular soldiers masqueraded as insurgents and insurgents who had come on side pretended to still be insurgents - has been touted as a way to defeat a local insurgency that had outsmarted the plodding inefficiencies of conventional armies. Recent criticisms have argued that the success of counter-insurgency operations has had more to do with the self promotion of their commanders than anything that happened on the ground. My argument, for the Zimbabwe liberation struggle in the late 1970s, is counter-insurgency tactics are less about defeating an insurgency but are about how to negotiate the intimate spaces of race and culture.