‘Mightier Than Marx’: Hassoldt Davis and American Cold War Politics in Postwar Ivory Coast

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Department 1


Department 2

Africana Studies


Using the travels of Hassoldt Davis in Ivory Coast to explore the global Cold War in French West Africa in the 1950s, this article argues that the main line of confrontation in the postwar era did not always pit Americans against Russians. In many instances, the struggle for the mind and soul of Africans was between the Americans and the French. The study highlights the role of everyday technology in the expansion of the American informal empire. By focusing on Davis and the significance of low-tech artifacts, the article suggests that in our scrutiny of Cold War science/technology, we need to supplement the study of the various production regimes of consumer goods with a comparable research on consumption and how they mediated the daily battles of the era. Such approach not only underscores the historical reality of the ‘social life of things’, but also gives agency to non-state actors as both users of Cold War technoscience and as participants in the politics that informed its mobilization on the world stage. Besides bringing Francophone Africa in the historiography of US–Africa relations, the article demonstrates a convergence of vision among American consular agents, US transnational corporations and an idiosyncratic travel writer.



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