Ideology, race and nonalignment in US cold war foreign relations: Or, How the cold war racialized neutralism without neutralizing race Chapter uri icon


  • In an irony that would likely have both surprised and gratified its founders, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has outlived the bipolar Cold War alignments that inspired its creation in the first place. It has come to be seen as synonymous with the so-called ‘Third World,’ another entity which the superpower conflict helped to create. As such, the persuasion that NAM champions — originally dubbed ‘neutralism’ but purposefully renamed ‘nonalignment’ by its founders — has historically been perceived as race- (and class-) inflected; as being the de facto collective stance of the non-European developing-nations of the global South.1 This membership was not, or not entirely, a grouping imposed by the Western camp. Although it was a French demographer who coined the term ‘Third World,’ there was always — most critically in the rhetoric of many global-South actors themselves — a racial dimension to the concept and the neutralist-nonaligned ideology that accompanied it. As a consequence, for contemporaries and scholars, NAM seemed by extension to equal non-white as well. But it is important to remember that neutralism-nonalignment, as a response to the Cold War, didn’t start out that way. ‘Race,’ broadly understood, shaped its conceptual and linguistic evolution in important ways. This historical relationship between Cold War neutralism-nonalignment — an ideological position that could be adopted by movements of various stripes — and race — a complex subject central to the postwar age of decolonization and civil rights — raises fascinating questions.

author list (cited authors)

  • Parker, J

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Parker, J

Book Title

  • Challenging US Foreign Policy: America and the World in the Long Twentieth Century

publication date

  • October 2011