New Publication: Ed Naylor ed., France’s Modernising Mission: Citizenship, Welfare and the Ends of Empire (Palgrave, 2018)

Earlier this year research group member Dr Ed Naylor published the edited volume France’s Modernising Mission: Citizenship, Welfare and the Ends of Empire (Palgrave, 2018), which includes a chapter authored by Professor Tony Chafer. Below is a brief presentation of the book and details on how to order it.

This outstanding collection of essays makes original interventions in the related fields of French imperial history, the study of decolonisation, and its legacies in contemporary France.’– Martin Thomas, Professor of Imperial History, University of Exeter

This volume explores how France’s ‘modernising mission’ unfolded during the post-war period and its reverberations in the decades after empire. In the aftermath of the Second World War, France sought to reinvent its empire by transforming the traditional ‘civilising mission’ into a ‘modernising mission’. Henceforth, French claims to rule would be based on extending citizenship rights and the promise of economic development and welfare within a ‘Greater France’. In the face of rising anti-colonial mobilization and a new international order, redefining the terms that bound colonised peoples and territories to the metropole was a strategic necessity but also a dynamic which Paris struggled to control. The language of reform and equality was seized upon locally to make claims on metropolitan resources and wrest away the political initiative. Intertwined with coercion and violence, the struggle to define what ‘modernisation’ would mean in colonised societies was a key factor in the wider process of decolonisation. Contributions to this volume by leading specialists extend geographically from Africa to the Pacific and to metropolitan France itself, examining a range of topics including education policy, colonial knowledge production, rural development and slum clearance.


Part I) Rethinking Education and Citizenship

  • Conflicting Modernities: Battles over France’s policy of adapted education in French West Africa

 Tony Chafer

  • Institutional Terra Non Firma: Representative democracy and the chieftaincy in French West Africa

Liz Fink

  • Decolonisation Without Independence? Breaking with the colonial in New Caledonia (1946-1975)

               Benoît Trépied

Part II) Mental Maps and the Territory

  • Rule of Experts? Governing modernisation in late colonial French Africa

James McDougall

  • From Tent to Village regroupement: The Colonial state and social engineering of rural space, 1843 to 1962

Neil MacMaster

  • Shantytowns and Re-housing in Late Colonial Algiers and Casablanca

Jim House

Part III) Metropolitan Legacies

  • Promoting ‘Harmonious Cohabitation’ in the Metropole: The Welfare charity Aide aux Travailleurs d’Outre Mer (1950-1975)

Ed Naylor

  • Protests Against Shantytowns in the 1950s and 1960s: Class logics, clientelist relations and ‘colonial redeployments’

Françoise de Barros

  • Colonial Legacies: Housing policy and riot prevention strategies in the Minguettes district of Vénissieux

Abdellali Hajjat


Available to order online by individuals or institutions at

Hardcover 89,99 € | £72.00 | $99.99

eBook 74,96 € | £56.99 | $79.99

MyCopy Printed eBook € | $ 24.99

Explainer: the role of foreign military forces in Niger

Niger is one of the most militarised countries in Africa. In November 2017, this came to wider notice when four American Special Forces soldiers and at least four of their Nigerien counterparts died in an ambush. Since then, the military presence has only intensified. Why are these forces there, whose interests are they serving and are they having the impact that was intended?

The US is not the only nation with a military presence in Niger. FranceGermanyCanadaand Italy also have troops in the West African country.

In April this year, Niger hosted Exercise Flintlock, a military exercise that brought together 1900 troops from more than 20 partner countries. Sponsored by the US, it purported to develop capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilians against violent religious extremism.

Three main reasons are given for this military presence: countering terrorism, preventing migration of Africans to Europe, and protecting foreign investments.

Read more

Originally published on The Conversation