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Martin Plaut

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Born in South Africa in May 1950, Martin Plaut is currently Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. He received his first degree in Social Science from the University of Cape Town (1975) and an Honours degree in Industrial Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand (1977) before going on to do an MA at the University of Warwick (1978). He worked for a year as an Industrial Relations officer with Mobil Oil before joining the British Labour Party as Secretary on Africa and the Middle East in 1979. In 1984 he joined the BBC, working primarily on Africa, but also spending a year in India launching a television service in Hindi in 2007. He has reported from many parts of the continent but specialised in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa. This involved travelling twice to Eritrea during its long war of independence, as well as reporting from South Africa during some of the clashes that led to the end of apartheid. During his time with the BBC he carried out investigative programmes on a range of issues, from the arms trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the diversion of aid during the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85. In 2011 he reported from the far North of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army and covered Sudan’s many crises on several occasions. He became Africa editor, BBC World Service News in 2003 and retired from the BBC in October 2013. He then joined the Institute of Commonwealth Studies as Senior Research Fellow. In April and May 2013 he was based at the University of Cape Town as Writer in Residence at the Centre for African Studies. Martin Plaut has advised the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the US State Department and the European Parliament. For two years he was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, leading their Africa research programme and continues to be an active member of Chatham House and the Royal African Society. He served as Vice-Chair of War on Want from 1984-85 and on the board of Justice Africa in 2013.

Publications

Books

  • Robert Mugabe, Ohio University Press, April 2018 (with Sue Onslow)
  • Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s most repressive state, Hurst, October, 2016
  • Promise and Despair: The first struggle for a non-racial South Africa, 1899 – 1914, Jacana Media, 2016
  • Curious Camden Town (with Andrew Whitehead), Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham, 2015
  • Curious Kentish Town (with Andrew Whitehead), Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham, 2014
  • Who rules South Africa? Jonathan Ball, 2012 (with Paul Holden)
  • Fighting for Britain. African Soldiers in the Second World War, David Killingray, with Martin Plaut. Boydell and Brewer. 2010
  • Ethiopia and Eritrea: Allergic to persuasion. Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2007 (with Sally Healy)
  • Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at war, Red Sea Press, 2005, (editor, with Dominique Jacquine-Berdal)
  • War in the Horn Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1999 (with Patrick Gilkes)
  • South Africa: Out of the Laager? Fabian Society, 1991
  • Power! Black workers, their unions and the struggle for freedom in South Africa. Spokesman Press, 1984 (with Denis MacShane and David Ward)

Selected Articles

  • Eritrean ‘askaris’: postcards from the Red Sea, The Ephemerist No. 180, Spring 2018, pp. 13- 15
  • Media Freedom in South Africa, The Round Table, 19 March 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2018.1448341
  • The Ethiopian famine: war, weapons and aid, The RUSI Journal, DOI: 10.1080/03071847.2017.1414736, January 2018
  • Reporting Conflict in Africa, Media, War and Conflict, Vol 10, Issue 1, 2017
  • Lobenguela’s izinDuna, Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa, vol. 70, no 2, December 2016
  • Olive Schreiner and the Taaibosch derailment: From ‘Pro-Boer’ activism to networking with the early British Labour Party, Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa, vol. 70, no 1, June 2016
  • F.Z.S. Peregrino, A Significant but Duplicitous Figure in the Black Atlantic World (with David Killingray), South African Historical Journal, August 2016
  • Joseph Gerrans and Resistance to the Planned Incorporation of Botswana into the Union of South Africa, 1909, Botswana Notes and Records, Volume 47, 2016
  • South Africa: How the ANC wins elections, Review of African Political Economy, Volume 41, Issue 142, October 2014, pages 634-644
  • Gandhi’s Decisive South African 1913 Campaign: A Personal Perspective from the Letters of Betty Molteno (with Catherine Corder) South African Historical Journal, Volume 66, Issue 1, January 2014, pages 22-54
  • A menu for change, Quarterly Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa 67, 2 (April-June 2013): 64-68.
  • How unstable is the Horn of Africa? Review of African Political Economy Volume 40, Issue 136, 2013
  • Thinking the Unthinkable: Life after Mandela, London Magazine, Feb/Mar 2013, p44
  • The Legacy of Meles Zenawi, Review of African Political Economy. Volume 39, Issue 134, 2012
  • The Nile crisis comes to the boil, African Security Review, Volume 19, Issue 3, 2010, Institute for Security Studies
  • South Africa – the ANC’s difficult allies, Review of African Political Economy, Vol.37 No.124 (June 2010, pp201-212)
  • South African Student Protest, 1968: Remembering the Mafeje Sit-in; History Workshop Journal (2010) 69 (1): 199-205.
  • The Nile Comes to the Boil, African Security Review, Volume 13, Issue 3, January 2004, pages 97-100
  • War in the Horn: The Conflict Between Eritrea and Ethiopia (with Patrick Gilkes). Royal Institute of International Affairs, December, 2009
  • Red Flag Rising: South Africa at the Crossroads. Royal Institute of International Affairs, Briefing Paper, 2009/4
  • Blair and Africa: the Africa Commission Briefing, Review of African Political Economy Vol.31 No.102 of the Review of African Political Economy (Dec 2004, pp704-711)
  • Trading Guns for Gold: Pakistani Peacekeepers in the Congo, Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 34 No. 113 (Sept 2007, pp 580-588)
  • Ethiopia’s Oromo Liberation Front, Review of African Political Economy, Vol.33 No.109 (Sept 2006, pp587-593)
  • The Eritrea Opposition Moves Towards Unity Review of African Political Economy Vol.32 No.106 (Dec 2005, pp 638-643)
  • Looking at South Africa Ten Years On, History Workshop Journal, Issue 59, Spring 2005
  • Blair and Africa: the Africa Commission, Review of African Political Economy, Vol.31 No.102 (Dec 2004, pp 704-711)
  • The African Clearing House, African Security Review Vol. 13 No 3, 2004, Institute for Security Studies
  • ‘The Workers’ Struggle’: A South African Text Revisited, Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 30 No. 96 (June 2003, pp305-313)
  • The Birth of the Eritrean Reform Movement Briefing, Review of African Political Economy, Vol.29 No.91 (March 2002, p119)

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