Theses Doctoral

Boycotts and Sanctions against South Africa: An International History, 1946-1970

Stevens, Simon Murray

This dissertation analyzes the role of various kinds of boycotts and sanctions in the strategies and tactics of those active in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. What was unprecedented about the efforts of members of the global anti-apartheid movement was that they experimented with so many ways of severing so many forms of interaction with South Africa, and that boycotts ultimately came to be seen as such a central element of their struggle. But it was not inevitable that international boycotts would become indelibly associated with the struggle against apartheid. Calling for boycotts and sanctions was a political choice. In the years before 1959, most leading opponents of apartheid both inside and outside South Africa showed little interest in the idea of international boycotts of South Africa. This dissertation identifies the conjuncture of circumstances that caused this to change, and explains the subsequent shifts in the kinds of boycotts that opponents of apartheid prioritized. It shows that the various advocates of boycotts and sanctions expected them to contribute to ending apartheid by a range of different mechanisms, from bringing about an evolutionary change in white attitudes through promoting the desegregation of sport, to weakening the state’s ability to resist the efforts of the liberation movements to seize power through guerrilla warfare. But though the purpose of anti-apartheid boycotts continued to be contested, boycott had, by 1970, become established as the defining principle of the self-identified anti-apartheid movement.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Connelly, Matthew J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 30, 2016