Struggles for Self-Determination examines the sovereign claims of African counterrevolutionary nationalisms in Katanga, Rhodesia, Transkei, and Bophuthatswana. The book’s most important contribution is conceptual; Brownell takes the nationalist claims of these countries seriously, even though they were denied that legitimacy by international forums in their own time.

Dominant nationalist historical narratives of African decolonization are entwined with the legacies of the anticolonial nationalist movements that became ruling postcolonial state governments.1 Therefore, understandings of African decolonization have relied on refuting the legitimacy of counterrevolutionary nationalisms that posited political alternatives to postcolonial nation-states. In addition, accounts of these counterrevolutionary nationalisms were often implicitly connected to notions of imperial nostalgia.2

It is to Brownell’s credit that he charts a careful path between sympathy and denial of these nationalist claims. For these reasons, he is upfront about what his book is not—he is not making normative claims of legitimacy for these regions,...

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