A sacred trust

Feb 10, 2005

Kettering Professor Michael Callahan's new scholarly study offers a further view of the League of Nations and Africa from 1929-1946 under the Mandates System.

Kettering Professor Michael Callahan's new scholarly study offers a further view of the League of Nations and Africa from 1929-1946 under the Mandates System, and aids his classroom instruction on international relations.

In 1898, British novelist Joseph Conrad published "A Heart of Darkness," a tale that is both a depiction of and attack on the brutal form of European imperial colonialism that marks the conquest of the Belgian Congo area of Africa.

When the novel appeared, many "civilized" nations continued to expand their reach into third world countries for numerous reasons, one of which focused on obtaining the natural resources of these small, undeveloped nations. Unfortunately, those individuals living in these countries were often subjugated, sometimes used as slave laborers and generally treated inhumanly.

Following the close of World War I, imperialism was reformed and internationalized, a change that Dr. Michael Callahan discusses in "A Sacred Trust: The League of Nations and Africa, 1929-1946." This work completes a two-volume history of the mandates system on Anglo-French colonialism in Africa from 1914-1946. Callahan's first book, "Mandates and Empire: The League of Nations and Africa, 1914-1931," published in 1999 by Sussex Academic Press, received critical acclaim. "The International History Review," for example, stated in a review that this book is "the best study of the colonial mandates in Africa and raises important questions about the evolution of colonial empires."

According to Callahan's latest work, after the first war ended the two largest (overseas) imperial powers at the time-Britain and France-administered Germany's former African colonies as "mandates" under the watchful eyes of the League of Nations.

Callahan writes in his book that mandates "are part of the history of modern Europe, Africa and the world. Many British and French leaders, whose lives were profoundly affected by the Great War, saw colonialism and the League as intimately bound with the peaceful progress of the world." Unfortunately, scholars have failed to examine this issue closely, choosing instead to concentrate on the League's "larger political problems."

"A Sacred Trust: The League of Nations and Africa, 1929-1946" describes the impact of the mandates system on Anglo-French colonialism between 1929 and 1946. With the appearance of Callahan's first work in this field in 1999 and now his newest book, he has become an important voice in the study of African and international history. For Kettering students, his work in this field is of particularly significance.

"My work on this book helps me teach international relations to students who are being prepared for a global workplace," Callahan said. Since Kettering students must complete a cooperative work assignment with a major employer to graduate from the University, his research has direct implications for their ability to understand international relations concepts.

"Research and teaching are interdependent," he explained. "Kettering expects faculty to engage in high quality scholarly activity, and as teachers we have high expectations for our students. Research contributes to my teaching and I hope this makes my classes more interesting for students."

He also explained that this book is the culmination of a 10-year, two-book project that helped him answer questions regarding international law, international relations and Europe's relationship with Africa. Although a number of people and organizations aided him in various ways during the development of this new work, he cites former Liberal Studies Head M.W. Daly and current faculty member Ben Redekop for their invaluable assistance.

The book was released in October and is available from Sussex Academic Press (www.sussex-academic.co.uk).

Written by Gary J. Erwin
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