Course Spotlight: Decolonize This!


How do we explain the popular movements of human history? Why does civil unrest occur? What leads to the justification of violence, and how does non-violent protest take shape in response? How do leaders enter the world political stage to undertake incredible good, but end up committing acts that are, invariably critiqued? Given a mass movement, is mass violence inevitable?

In this course, students consider social changes, majorities and minorities, and the nature of empowerment. They examine the strategies of non-violent and violent protests. They seek to understand the rise and fall of populists, including an elaborate spectrum of every leader from the current US President, Donald Trump, Hun Sen, and Rodrigo Duterte (President of the Philippines) to Haile Selassie I and Salvador Allende. Their examinations unpack the emergence of anti-colonial royal figures, such as Norodom Sihanouk, and extremely violent militarists, such as Pol Pot and Augusto Pinochet. To undertake this examination, students begin with the words of French anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy, before we test through, throughout an exploration of the history of the Third World in the twentieth century.

When anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy coined the term “Third World,” he referred to the connotation of the “Third Estate” or the common people of the French Revolution, suggesting through implication that they were those who had been neglected and exploited by others. Hence, the understanding that Third World nations were those nations that were not aligned with the capitalist First World or the communist Second World during the Cold War. Seemingly simultaneously, the term “Third World,” became short-hand to refer to countries that were underdeveloped, with governments that had been co-opted by various international and local actors. Even though Ethiopia, Somalia, Cuba, and Vietnam had fully fledged socialist revolutions, they were called “Third World” in common parlance. Many non-aligned countries, such as Ireland, Finland, and Sweden, remained almost never conceived of as such. Instead, “Third World” became associated with matters of latitude.

If a nation was in the tropics, it was Third World. If a nation was in desperate poverty, it was Third World. If it was in danger of being co-opted by communist politics, it was Third World. If it had experienced a long, drawn-out, complex narrative of decolonization, it was third world. Finally, the term “Third World,” became associated with a very specific student movement in the United States, sixteen years after Sauvy had coined it: The Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). Although this course will not ignore the largest series of student protests in US university systems in late 1960s, in this course, it will seek to put these events, the terms that created them, and the long-term implications of global student movements in the 1960s in the greater perspective of post-colonial liberation struggles. Indeed, in this course, students will thoroughly discuss the wider “History of the Third World,” from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries.


History 225: Decolonize This! The Politics of Protest & Populism in the 20th Century
3 credits
Mon./Weds./Fri. 12:05-12:55PM
346 Birge Hall
Spring 2018
*note: this course counts for an African Studies Extended Core Course


McMahon, Robert ed. 2013. The Cold War in the Third World. New York: Oxford University Press.
Christiansen, Samantha & Zachary A. Scarlett eds. 2013. The Third World in the Global 1960s. New York: Berghahn Books.
Prashad, Vijay. 2002. The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World. New York: The New Press.


Dr. Billy (short for “William”) Noseworthy is an Associate Lecturer of Global & Asian History at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has also taught courses cross listed with Languages & Cultures of Asia, and Religious Studies. He teaches and writes about the history of social movements and religions, particularly in the borderlands of Asia. He has published a bit of his work in Vietnamese and English. His publications range from book reviews, to short exposé pieces on religious ceremonies, and extensive projects, including a piece on the Unified Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races in 1960s Vietnam and Cambodia. He has managed to publish several book chapters, which he wrote in Vietnamese, as contributions to edited volumes, while conducting research on his dissertation in Southeast Asia. He was also part of a team that authored the first Cham-Vietnamese-English/Vietnamese-Cham-English dictionary (with Sakaya et al. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Tri Thuc Publishing House. 2014), while he also designed the Library of Congress standard romanization of the Cham script. Beyond scholarly research and writing, Dr. Noseworthy enjoys gardening, cooking, travel, guitar, and time with his cats.