• Juliana Appiah Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana
  • Roland Mireku Yeboah University of Ghana
Keywords: Crypto-colonialism, Colonialism without colonies, Coloniality, Colonial Matrix of power, Neocolonialism, Post-colonial thought


Switzerland, an example of neutrality and peace, is among Western European countries least associated with colonialism. Switzerland has engineered and promoted a favorable public opinion of itself to the African continent. This article suggests, however, that the history of Switzerland in Africa is much less strange to colonialism than its image. Swiss soldiers, companies and individuals—often with either the explicit or implicit consent of the Swiss authorities—participated in and benefitted from the colonial ventures of European powers in Africa. At the same time, Switzerland pursued its own colonial projects that consisted of profitable trade relations and exporting the Swiss Weltanschauung (world view) tantamount to Western racist pseudo-scientific ontology. Notwithstanding, the Swiss modus operandi, which worked in the shadow of bigger players and combined business with aid and colonialism with humanitarianism, concealed the role of Switzerland in the construction and maintenance of the colonial world order. For the same reason, Swiss colonialism was not targeted by the movement of decolonization, much the same way the metropoles of colonial rule were and thus had the possibility to continue. By projecting coloniality, the colonial matrix of power and postcolonial thought, this paper contributes to the existing intellectual debate on colonial complicity (including racism) of Switzerland. We unearth the mechanism through which Swiss colonialism manifested and the mutated form it has taken in the aftermath of the decolonization process.

Author Biographies

Juliana Appiah, Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana

Appiah Juliana (Corresponding author) completed her PhD in International Affairs at the University of Ghana in 2014. She is a Research Fellow and in charge of student relations in the Master’s degree programme at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana. She specializes in regionalism and regional integration in Africa, peace and security studies in Africa where she has several publications. Appiah is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for European Studies at the University of Ghana.     

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Roland Mireku Yeboah, University of Ghana

Roland Mireku Yeboah is a PhD Candidate in International Affairs at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), University of Ghana (UG). He is a product of the Institute of African Studies, and LECIAD both at UG, where he obtained M.Phil. Degree in African Studies (History and Politics) and M.A in International Affairs respectively. His research interest include Africa’s international relations, global Black struggle of the 21st century, self-determination and secessionist conflicts in post-independence Africa. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Pan-African Studies (JPASS), CODESRIA Journal, African Journal of legal Studies (AJLS) and Journal of Black Studies, among others.