Hugo B N Zetterberg

Thesis title: The Mau Mau Rebellion and the Algerian War of Independence: Two Late Colonial Conflicts and their Representation in News Media


Originally from Sweden, Hugo Zetterberg first moved to Scotland to study History and Political Science at the University of Strathclyde and obtained a Master of Letters in Modern History at the University of Glasgow before commencing his PhD studies at Edinburgh. His interest is in French and British political and colonial history, with a specific focus on how imperialism impacted on political life in the Metropolis. This interest was born during his Erasmus year at the Institute of Political Science of Aix-en-Provence, where he took modules on French colonial and African history. His Masters dissertation “To What Extent Did Labour Oppose Empire in the 1950s?” used the Mau Mau Rebellion as a case study to show that the party’s attitude toward independence movements was ambiguous upon the eve of decolonisation, with the frontbench avoiding to speak out in opposition of British colonialism as late as 1959. The archival material included papers from the People’s History Museum and the Rhodes House Collection (Barbara Castle’s private papers, and those of the Anti-Slavery Society). His PhD project studies French and British wars of decolonisation.


2018: MLitt Modern History (Merit), University of Glasgow (UK)

2017: History and Politics and International Relations (First), University of Strathclyde (UK)

2015: Programme d’Etudes Politiques Annuel, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence (FR)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History (affiliated student)

Current research interests

History of Arab nationalism; history of African nationalism; decolonisation; independence movements in the 1950s; popular imperialism; history of the press; British political history 1930-1970; French political history 1930-1970

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

Supervised by Emile Chabal and Emma Hunter, Hugo’s current project is on portrayals of late colonial wars in the French and British press, with particular focus on the Mau Mau Rebellion (1952-1960) and the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962). Establishing the extent to which the representation and interpretation of the war in the “own” colony differed from that in the other country’s colony, focus is also placed upon the official interpretation of events, investigating whether these were influenced or differed from those of journalists. A broad body of British and French newspapers and magazines (from both mainland France and Algeria) constitutes an important part of the primary sources. Additional, non-published material is drawn from government archives in Paris and London.