Britain and Africa Under Blair

In pursuit of the good state

By Julia Gallagher

Britain and Africa Under Blair


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9117-9
  • Pages: 176
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: November 2013
  • BIC Category: Politics, International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / African, Africa, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General, Society & social sciences / International relations


Africa was a key focus of Britain's foreign policy under Tony Blair. Military intervention in Sierra Leone, increases in aid and debt relief, and grand initiatives such as the Commission for Africa established the continent as a place in which Britain could 'do good'.

Britain and Africa under Blair: in pursuit of the good state critically explores Britain's fascination with Africa. It argues that, under New Labour, Africa represented an area of policy that appeared to transcend politics. Gradually, it came to embody an ideal state activity around which politicians, officials and the wider public could coalesce, leaving behind more contentious domestic and international issues.

Building on the story of Britain and Africa under Blair, the book, now available in paperback, draws wider conclusions about the role of 'good' and idealism in foreign policy. In particular, it discusses how international relationships provide opportunities to create and pursue ideals, and why they are essential for the well-being of political communities. It argues that state actors project the idea of 'good' onto idealised, distant objects, in order to restore a sense of the 'good state'.

The book makes a distinctive and original contribution to debates about the role of ethics in international relations, and will be of particular interest to academics, policy-makers and students of international relations, Africa and British foreign policy, as well as anyone interested in ethics in international affairs.


Britain and Africa under Blair: In pursuit of the Good State (2011) is a rich and perspicacious analysis of the weight of Prime Minister Tony Blair's presence in Africa during his premiership.

"The book should make a good read for anybody interested in apprehending the color of British politics in contemporary Africa, ethical leadership and international relations, which are vital in the age of globalization and human side of politics."

"A fascinating study of Britain's Africa policy during Tony Blair's tenure as prime minister."

".....a distinctively novel interpretation of how personal and state values, ideals, and interests interacted in the conduct of New Labour's foreign policy toward Africa, particularly Sierra Leone and Nigeria."

"It sets a high standard and should inspire others to employ similarly imaginative approaches to old subjects. The book is highly recommended for academic and professional audiences concerned with foreign policy, African studies, and ethics in international affairs."


List of abbreviations
1. New Labour: doing good in Africa
2. Ideas of the good and the political
3. How the British found utopia in Africa
4. The good, the bad and the ambiguous
5. Healing the scar?
6. Idealisation in Africa
7. The good state
8. Conclusion


Julia Gallagher is Lecturer in International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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