Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Joseph Hodge.

Committee Co-Chair

James Siekmeier

Committee Member

Silver Moon


This thesis examines the end of colonial rule in British Guiana and what it tells us about the relationship between decolonization and the Cold War. It explores how the end of a four hundred year period of European nation-state domination of the world led to a complex shift in global power structures and considerable conflict. From 1953 to 1966 nationalist leaders in British Guiana struggled to achieve independence from Great Britain and fought to establish their position in the future government of Guyana. Colonialism, however, left a unique imprint on British Guiana's cultural development, and created a volatile society that left the colony marred by racial violence. Additionally, Guianese autonomy was limited by Anglo-American Cold War imperatives in the Caribbean. The decolonization of British Guiana became a struggle, and eventually a compromise, between British and American officials, as well as between the Anglo-American alliance and Guianese nationalists.;This thesis explores one aspect of that power struggle in detail. It shows how Cheddi Jagan's People's Progressive Party (PPP) in British Guiana pursued an increasingly aggressive foreign policy after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 that was in conflict with United States Cold War goals. Meanwhile, Forbes Burnham and the People's National Congress (PNC) sought to establish a working relationship with the United States. As a result, the United States and Great Britain chose to subvert the elected PPP government and grant independence to British Guiana under a government led by Burnham. The experience of independence in British Guiana illuminates then, the intricate relationship between the Cold War, decolonization, and the struggle for self-government in the developing world.