Transnational connections

What were the key sites where southern Africa’s liberation armies took form? What sorts of ideas and practices were exchanged in them and how were these exchanges understood by the soldiers, instructors, interpreters and others who took part? There were many such sites, ranging from capital cities to major military centres to remote camps, located across the African continent, the Eastern Bloc, and many other venues besides. Our map offers a visual representation of the geographical spread of these sites: click on the pins for more information about each venue. We also offer short sketches of three very different ‘crossing points’ or transnational military hubs –the predominantly Cuban-run camp located at the former mission station of Boma in eastern Angola, the Soviet military training centres at Odessa and Perevalnoye, and the camps in Malanje, Angola. Together, they underline the multi-faceted picture of global exchange in particular locales that is beginning to emerge from our research, and which shaped liberation movement military cultures.In exploring these sites, we add to a fast growing and rich literature on ‘hubs’, on ‘histoire croisée’, and on transnational history, all of which have contributed to tracing the interactions of the grand movements of decolonisation and the global Cold War. We emphasise the importance of a methodology that is attentive to the life stories and interpretations of the actors involved while also situating them within the broader transnational histories of which they were a part, and which made the institutions and activities at each of these sites possible.