Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Beth Plummer (Director), Chunmei Du, Juan Romero

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The 1941 Atlantic Charter’s references to self-determination galvanized anticolonial nationalists during the Second World War. These activists used the principles enumerated in the Atlantic Charter to frame their demands. This thesis examines three cases in the broader global context during the war, from vastly different colonial and wartime situations: British-ruled India, French-ruled Syria, and the U.S.- ruled Philippines. Across these different situations, anticolonial nationalists used the Atlantic Charter in an attempt to legitimate their own projects. This thesis shows that the elite nationalist movements examined here used a common rhetoric from the Charter, but in variable ways. Each case study is examined in depth, concluding with comparisons of how Indian, Syrian, and Philippine nationalist movements cited, used, or ignored the Atlantic Charter. Broadly speaking, movements in each of the case studies diverged between either dismissing the Charter as colonialist hypocrisy, necessitating the rejection of political dialogue for more radical options, or using the Charter as a tool to extract concessions from European and American colonial regimes.


Asian History | European History | History | United States History