Tag Archives | French colonialism

Decolonization in French West Africa

Tony Chafer’s new article Decolonization in French West Africa has been published this week in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. Abstract: Studies of French decolonization in West Africa have traditionally treated it as a planned and reasonably smooth process. It has therefore been portrayed as a successful decolonization that stands in stark contrast to the much more conflictual decolonization processes in Indochina (1947–1954) and Algeria (1954–1962), which were marked by prolonged wars. This approach has tended to give pride of place to the role of individuals—members of France’s governing elites and African political leaders—who are portrayed as having successfully managed the transition to independence. While the importance of such individuals cannot be denied, it is important to recognize that French decolonization in West Africa was a contingent process. Shaped by the particular nature of French colonial rule in the region, the new international context after 1945, events on the ground, and—on the French side—the perceived need to maintain empire at all costs in order to restore French grandeur after the humiliation of defeat and occupation in the Second World War, it was a process that involved a multiplicity of French and African actors who were not in control […]

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African Feminisms: Claire Griffiths’ paper on the Gendering of Empires

With thanks to Dr Margaret Majumdar for making this information available. The final paper in the Finding Africa series 2017, on the theme of African feminisms, was presented this month at the University of Leeds by Claire Griffiths of the University of Chester. Her paper ‘Postcolonial Afterlives and the Gendering of Empires: a Franco-African Experience’ focused on the intersection of gender and social justice in those areas of Africa that came under French colonial occupation. Following a rapid overview of the history of exogenous (Western/French) politico-legal structures introduced into the African colonies, the paper proposed that as such structures increasingly framed all aspects of the governance and ‘development’ of the colonies so they embedded discriminatory practices into public life. It went on to question the degree to which these structures and practices have been addressed and dismantled in the postcolonial era, noting the very recent development in the 21 st century of gender studies as an acknowledged field of academic enquiry in the Francophone African academy, and concluding with recent UN data on education and literacy levels across the West Africa region. Disaggregated for gender, these data flag up female gender as the most significant factor of discrimination in relation to […]

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