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THE POLISH MISSION TO LIBERIA, 1934–1938: CONSTRUCTING POLAND'S COLONIAL IDENTITY*

  • PIOTR PUCHALSKI (a1)
Abstract
abstract

The Polish mission to Liberia (1934–8) was a series of diplomatic, commercial, and scientific initiatives carried out by Poland's Maritime and Colonial League and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Contextualizing the mission in terms of contemporary attempts to construct Poland's colonial identity, this article argues that Poland's colonial lobby imagined their presence in Liberia as a unique form of colonialism, distinct from its Western counterparts. Many participants in the mission considered Poland to have a special moral mandate in Africa by virtue of its own experience as a recently occupied nation. The grandiose visions of Liberia as a Polish colony and unfulfilled economic promises, however, contributed to the ultimate termination of the mission in 1938. The Poles’ concept of colonialism obscured their plausible objectives in Liberia and distracted them from executing their economic plan. The construction of a Polish colonial identity was a perfect means of rallying patriots around the flag and creating domestic support for Poland's maritime projects, but a colonial ideology was a double-edged sword in foreign affairs.

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Department of History, Mosse Humanities Bldg, 455 N. Park Street, Madison, WI 53706 puchalski.piotr@gmail.com
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*

The author submitted an early draft of this article to satisfy a requirement for a Master's degree in History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in May 2016. He would like to thank Profs. Giuliana Chamedes, Kathryn Ciancia, Fran Hirsch, Alfred McCoy, and David McDonald for their help in revising that draft.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Taras Hunczak , ‘Polish colonial ambitions in the inter-war period’, Slavic Review, 26 (1967), pp. 648–56

Susan Pedersen , The guardians: the League of Nations and the crisis of empire (Oxford, 2015)

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The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
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