This article argues for a more careful appraisal of what constituted the “Third World” political and ideological orientation in the early phases of the Cold War, and for greater emphasis on the often neglected liberal democratic strands within early postcolonialism. Its focus is the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) and its conferences and affiliated associations in Asia and Africa in the 1950s. The largely neglected story of the CCF’s engagement with the nascent Third World, which began with the earliest years of the organization, revealed an alternative set of voices within the newly independent states: anticolonial, antiracist, but also antitotalitarian, and wary of the perils of state-dominated modernization. By recovering these aspects of the early postcolonial period, it seeks both to moderate the dominant narrative, which privileges nonalignment, and to extend the history of the CCF’s intellectual project, which has generally been approached within an Atlantic and European frame.


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pp. 53-85
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