Thinking East African: Debating federation and regionalism, 1960-1977’

Christopher Vaughan, Julie Macarthur, Emma Hunter, Gerard McCann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


East African federation was a vision of regional African unity that emerged with force in the years of decolonization. Federation never came to pass, and the East African Community that existed between 1967-1977 had a more limited, technocratic character, based on common services and economic integration. Yet this chapter shows that visions of East African unity circulated and were debated in a wider range of public spheres in the region than is usually acknowledged in the existing literature. We blend a political and cultural history approach to show the longevity and vitality of regionalist imaginaries, not just as a top-down project of national leaders, but also as a means for publics to critique the growing authoritarianism of nation-state governments and to imagine alternative conceptions of sovereignty and belonging. The survival of regionalism to the present in East Africa, notably in the revived and expanded East African Community, should therefore be seen not merely as a technocratic, statist project, but also as a manifestation of these enduring public imaginaries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVisions of African Unity
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on the History of Pan-Africanism and African Unification Projects
EditorsMatteo Grilli, Frank Gerits
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783030529116
ISBN (Print)9783030529109
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameAfrican Histories and Modernities
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2634-5773


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