U.S.-African Relations under Trump – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

U.S.-African Relations under Trump

In a new book, Professor of International Relations Kevin Dunn examines how the Trump administration’s foreign policies affected relations between the United States and Africa.

Foreign Perceptions of the United States under Donald Trump features a chapter by Kevin Dunn, the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Published by Lexington Books in 2021, the book examines the way the outside world perceived the 45th president.

Dunn’s chapter, “From Benign Neglect to Aggressive Disdain: US-African Relations under Trump,” offers an overview of U.S.-African relations in the decades before Trump’s election before examining “the key elements that characterized his administration’s engagement with the continent,” says Dunn. “Finally, [the chapter] examines ways in which Africans across the continent responded to these developments.”

“To avoid mistaken portrayals of a monolithic ‘African’ perspective,” Dunn says he analyzed views from across the continent, paying particular attention to those “from South Africa, Kenya and, most notably, Nigeria, where Trump was held in higher esteem than almost any other country in the world.”

Dunn concludes that the administration “achieved very little in terms of U.S. policy towards African states, except to exacerbate the U.S.’s declining influence. In general, the continent continued to be neglected by the U.S. — and when Trump’s attention did turn to Africa, he tended to lump all African states together and employed racist and degrading language.”

The chapter predicts that “U.S.-African relations under Trump will probably best be remembered for what he said more than what his administration did or did not do. Largely ignored by Trump and his predecessors, most African states increased their engagement with China and other rising powers. The U.S. has been losing its political capital and moral high ground vis-à-vis Africa for years, but never as quickly nor dramatically as it did under Trump.”

Dunn, who received the Colleges’ 2014 Faculty Prize for Scholarship, has produced a wide-ranging body of scholarship examining international relations theory, African politics and punk rock around the world. His research focuses predominantly on the African Great Lakes Region (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Tanzania) and issues in that region concerning security, development, regionalization/globalization and international relations. Beyond African politics, his coursework includes international relations, U.S. foreign policy, and the intersection of pop music, globalization and politics.

Dunn is the author of nearly a dozen books, including Imagining the Congo (2003), The Politics of Origin in Africa (2013) and Global Punk: Resistance and Rebellion in Everyday Life (2016).

A member of the HWS faculty since 2001, Dunn holds a Ph.D. from Boston University, an M.A. from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a B.A. from Davidson College. He has served as a visiting professor of development studies at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda.