Author Archives: Robert Vitalis

About Robert Vitalis

Teaches political science at the University of Pennsylvania. The London Guardian named his America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Stanford, 2007) a book of the year. His next book, The End of Empire in American International Relations, moves away from the Middle East to explore the unwritten history of the international relations discipline in the United States and the recovery of its critical "Howard School" tradition.

The Midnight Ride of Kwame Nkrumah and Other Fables of Bandung (Ban-doong)

The idea that the First Asian-African Conference in Bandung in 1955, in which the majority of 29 states were outspokenly aligned, was a conference of the non-aligned states or “gave birth” to non-alignment is a kind of Paul Revere’s ride of our postcolonial age. And most of the men representing those states would likely have responded to claims of a unity or alliance of color with blank or uncomprehending stares or else would have smiled politely and moved on. No delegate ever seriously argued that what united peoples of disparate religions, regions, and commitments was race. Color was a fact for some, not for some others, but for no one was it what united them. To the contrary, many rejected the idea. They called it racialism and warned against appealing to it as a dangerous and retrograde step.