‘Playing the Russian Game’: Black Radicalism, the Press, and Colonial Office Attempts to Control Anti-Colonialism in the Early Cold War, 1946–50

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article scrutinises attempts by the British Foreign and Colonial Office to control information in its colonies between 1946 and 1950. Several factors combined to alter the ground on which colonial officials operated in this period: an emerging ‘Cold War’ between Britain and its wartime Soviet ally, international debates about creating an enforceable catalogue of ‘human rights' and a heightened emphasis on public relations within British colonies as a strategy for imperial governance. These factors converged in the response of colonial officials to the writing of one of the most notorious anti-colonial activists in Britain at the time, George Padmore. By analysing British Colonial Office reports of Soviet propaganda in their colonies, the article suggests new analysis about some of the ways in which the rhetoric of the Cold War impacted on Britain's approach to empire after the Second World War.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-534
Number of pages26
JournalThe Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2015