24 July 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Valentino Ndaba
Dr Lazlo Passemiers
Dr Lazlo Passemiers spent six years conducting research across three continents.

A keen interest in unravelling transnational histories of 20th-century Southern Africa led Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Lazlo Passemiers to spend six years conducting extensive research across three continents. Dr Passemiers sifted through archives in Africa, Europe, and the US in order to convert his PhD thesis into a monograph.

It was on 17 July 2019 that the fruits of Passemiers’ labour were officially launched by the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein Campus. His book, Decolonisation and Regional Geopolitics: South Africa and the ‘Congo Crisis’, 1960-1965, offers an important shift in the historiography of the Congo Crisis. It creatively centres African involvement in the debate by examining this event from a regional geopolitical angle. 

Going back in time 

By providing a three-fold perspective that examines decolonisation, apartheid diplomacy, and Southern African nationalist movements, the book offers a rounded picture of South African involvement in the Congo Crisis.

Dr Passemiers’ fascination with the transnational dynamics of Southern Africa’s history has rippled into two new research projects that respectively explore “the connection between decolonisation and white flight in the region as well as the transnational support networks of liberation movements”.

Finding the missing pieces of the puzzle

Prof Christopher Saunders, Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town, commended Dr Passemiers’ historiographical contribution: “He has identified a major gap in the literature and he has filled it admirably by looking across the spectrum.” As Prof Saunders noted, “what has been missing in the literature is the African angle.” 

Literature’s role in transformation

The process of undoing the profound impact of colonialism on society is long and difficult and important in this process is a clear understanding of history, which Dr Passemiers’ book enhances.

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