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Title:No Easy Row for the Russian Hoe: Ideology and Pragmatism in Nigerian -Soviet Relations, 1960--1991
Author(s):Matusevich, Maxim
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Donald Crummey
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Political Science, International Law and Relations
Abstract:This dissertation project is a revisionist examination of an important but, as I attempt to demonstrate, often misinterpreted issue of the interplay between ideology and pragmatism in the interaction between the Third World and superpowers. It explores the dynamics of the relations between Nigeria and the USSR from the time of Nigerian independence in 1960 up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The uneven character of the relationship has not yet been fully explained by historians, but is of considerable interest, because of the new light it sheds on key issues in the relations between the Third World and Great Powers in general, and Africa and the Soviet Union in particular. The story: (1) reveals the prevalence of pragmatism over ideology in the interaction between a Third World nation and a superpower; (2) gives 'third worlders' "agency" in this interaction; and as a result (3) entails a critical reassessment of the impact of the Cold war environment on the Soviet-African dialogue. By emphasizing and exploring the role of a Third World actor I will engage and complement the present body of postcolonial theory with its emphasis on dependency and underdevelopment. Here I see a window of opportunity to move beyond (without completely shedding it, of course) the paradigm of exploitation as the favored heuristic tool in the arsenal of postcolonial studies. The generic West may well have "underdeveloped Africa", but Africa's postcolonial response to the challenges and opportunities presented by its continuing association with the Northern Hemisphere was progressively active and enterprising. Thus I argue against placing the African nation on the receiving end of a superpower-defined discourse. The case of Nigeria shows how African political elites skillfully exploited the Soviet-Western rivalry to their own benefit. My research into the story of Nigerian-Soviet relations downplays the role of ideology in this encounter between a developing country and a superpower. Moreover, it reveals a highly pragmatic approach employed by an African nation in view of opportunities presented by the Cold war competition for the "soul" of the Third World. Contrary to a widely accepted notion, the Third World countries did not necessarily remain on the periphery of global confrontation, but actively engaged the superpowers taking full advantage of their idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and ambitions.
Issue Date:2001
Description:314 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3023139
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2001

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