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Trustee for the Human Community

Ralph J. Bunche, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Africa

Robert A. Hill

Publication Year: 2010

Ralph J. Bunche (1904–1971), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, was a key U.S. diplomat in the planning and creation of the United Nations in 1945. In 1947 he was invited to join the permanent UN Secretariat as director of the new Trusteeship Department. In this position, Bunche played a key role in setting up the trusteeship system that provided important impetus for postwar decolonization ending European control of Africa as well as an international framework for the oversight of the decolonization process after the Second World War. Trustee for the Human Community is the first volume to examine the totality of Bunche’s unrivalled role in the struggle for African independence both as a key intellectual and an international diplomat and to illuminate it from the broader African American perspective. These commissioned essays examine the full range of Ralph Bunche’s involvement in Africa. The scholars explore sensitive political issues, such as Bunche’s role in the Congo and his views on the struggle in South Africa. Trustee for the Human Community stands as a monument to the profoundly important role of one of the greatest Americans in one of the greatest political movements in the history of the twentieth century.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

As one of the founding fathers of the United Nations and the key architect of the UN charter’s trusteeship clauses as well as the first head of the UN Secretariat’s Trusteeship Division, Ralph J. Bunche perfectly embodied the spirit of a world of nations, on which the UN is founded. ...

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pp. ix-xvii

In 2003 there were worldwide centennial commemorations of the birth of Ralph Johnson Bunche—pioneering scholar, international statesman, and quintessential public intellectual. The University of California, Los Angeles, hosted public events throughout the year to mark the occasion. ...

Centenary Memory Beads for Mr. Bunche

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pp. xix-xxii

Part One Bunche the Africanist Intellectual

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Chapter One Ralph Bunche: African American Intellectual

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pp. 3-18

I want to discuss the analytical trajectory along which the young Ralph Bunche—during his graduate studies in political science at Harvard University in the late 1920s and early 1930s—arrived at an intertwined leftist-and-pragmatic characterization of the political system of twentieth-century European colonial governance in African societies. ...

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Chapter Two Ralph Bunche and the Dawn of Africanist Scholarship

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pp. 19-24

The achievements of Ralph Johnson Bunche can scarcely be contained within the covers of the volumes that have sought to treat his life and work. Bunche occupied several divergent realms at once, as a scholar of modern social thought, movements, and change, all of which drew him to late-colonial Africa. ...

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Chapter Three The Making of an Africanist: Ralph Bunche in South Africa, 1937

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pp. 25-41

One of a handful of American academics, white or black, interested in African issues before World War II, Ralph Bunche stood out because he actually conducted research in Africa on several occasions: first, in West Africa for three months for his Harvard doctorate in 1932, and then in South Africa and East Africa in late 1937 ...

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Chapter Four Ralph Bunche and the Decolonization of African Studies: The Paradox of Power, Morality, and Scholarship

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pp. 42-68

When Ralph Johnson Bunche won the Toppan Prize for his brilliant doctoral dissertation from Harvard University, “French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey,”1 he had taken a giant step in the decolonization of African studies and a career that would lead to world renown. In the process, the academic world would recognize ...

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Chapter Five Ralph Bunche the Africanist: Revisiting Paradigms Lost

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pp. 69-90

On May 11, 1927, the young Ralph Bunche sent a letter to W. E. B. DuBois, the preeminent African American intellectual of his time. Bunche was about to receive his AB degree in political science from UCLA (then the University of California, Southern Branch). He would deliver the valedictory address at the 1927 commencement exercises ...

Part Two Bunche the Statesman for Africa

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Chapter Six Decolonization through Trusteeship: The Legacy of Ralph Bunche

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pp. 93-115

Ralph Bunche was born in 1904, the same year that the Germans began their genocide of the Herero and Nama people of South-West Africa, now Namibia. In that episode, for which Germany apologized in 2004, the Germans articulated and enacted what they then called an extermination policy. ...

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Chapter Seven An Unexpected Challenge: Ralph Bunche as Field Commander in the Congo, 1960

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pp. 116-127

By early 1960, Ralph Bunche was entitled to feel that his hectic, multifaceted life might be reaching a less tumultuous stage. Although he was still under sixty years of age, his character, energy, and knowledge had propelled him into such demanding and highly pressurized assignments that his health and normal buoyancy ...

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Chapter Eight Ralph Bunche and Patrice Lumumba: The Fatal Encounter

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pp. 128-147

The perversities of destiny drew into brief but fatal encounter in 1960 two extraordinary leaders, Ralph Bunche and Patrice Lumumba. Their paths crossed for only two intense months in the summer of the Congo crisis. In that abbreviated historical moment, a relationship that circumstance commanded to be collaborative and ...

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Chapter Nine Ralph Bunche, Patrice Lumumba, and the First Congo Crisis

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pp. 148-158

Ralph Bunche was sent to the Congo in late June 1960 to represent the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskj

Part Three Reflections on Bunche’s Legacy in Global Perspective

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Chapter Ten Africa in the Global Decolonization Process: The Road to Postcoloniality

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pp. 161-180

The subject of decolonization has taken a roller coaster ride through the relatively short lifetime of Africanist historiography. This entire field first came into its own near the end of the colonial era, and much of its energy drew upon the promise of impending independence. Decolonization was seen at that time largely from ...

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pp. 181-184

Marking the centenary of any historical figure can be a delicate exercise. Does one simply laud the accomplishments of the individual that made him or her a part of history? This is a safe but often boring choice. Does one attempt to show how relevant a figure’s life is to the contemporary scene? ...

Apendix United Nations Charter The Trusteeship System

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pp. 185-192

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pp. 193-198

David Anthony is professor of African and African American history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research explores African and African American history, art, music, literature, and cinema as well as eastern and southern Africa, African languages, and African and African American linkages. ...


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pp. 199-205

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443446
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419106

Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794698923
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Trustee for the Human Community

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Subject Headings

  • Africa -- History -- 1884-1960.
  • Statesmen -- United States -- Biography.
  • Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971.
  • Decolonization -- Africa -- History -- 20th century.
  • United Nations -- Officials and employees -- Biography.
  • Nobel Prize winners -- Biography.
  • Africanists -- United States -- Biography.
  • African Americans -- Biography.
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