STUDY HALF DAY. Re-imagining Ends of Empire, University of Portsmouth

The study of the ends of empires and decolonisation has generally focused on the passage from empire to nation-states. Whether this process was violent or relatively peaceful, it has generally been presented as historically inevitable. This is particularly the case with France’s African empire which is often studied in terms of its attempt and failure to hold on at all costs before ultimately giving up (Algeria) or its ‘successful’ negotiation of a smooth transfer of power to a Westernised African elite (West Africa). This study day aims to expand on these new approaches to studying the ends of empire. 

With the generous support of The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF), The Society for French Studies (SFS), The Society for the Study of French History (SSFH), the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR) and the School of Languages and Area Studies, University of Portsmouth.


Wednesday March 2, 2016, University of Portsmouth, Park building room 3.23

12:20 – 12:30      Welcome and Introduction by Natalya Vince

12:30 – 1:30        Panel 1: The SSFH panel: Beyond the Franco-African Perspective (Chaired by Natalya Vince) followed by a Q&A

Mark Thurner (University of London): “Decolonizing Decolonisation: On the Indo-Hispanic Origins of the Postcolonial Historical Imagination”

Benoît Trépied (IRIS, CNRS): “Colonies After Empire? Nationalising France’s Overseas Territories in the Pacific (1960s-1970s)”

1:30-1:45              Short Break

1:45-3:30              Panel 2: The ASMCF Panel: African Perspectives on Ending Empires

Ismay Milford (European University Institute, Florence): “‘The unity of Africa means the unity of ourselves’: The Committee of African Organisations and the pursuit of an imagined unity”

Megan Brown (The Graduate Center, City University of New York): “Letters to Brussels: Independent Algeria’s Eurafrican Moment?”

Meike de Goede (Leiden University): Matsouanist Resistance in late Colonial Congo-Brazzaville

With discussion from Andrew W M Smith (UCL), who will also draw comparisons with his research on the ‘messy ends’ of French empire and the role of contingency and improvisation.

3:30-4:00              Tea/Coffee Break

4:00-5:15              Panel 3: The SFS Panel: Alternative European Narratives of Decolonisation

Charlotte Riley (University of Southampton): “‘This is work for the future of mankind’: Development aid and the ‘end’ of the British Empire in Africa.”

Paula Pfoser (Vienna): “Viewing Decolonization from the perspective of a (Post) Colonialism without Colonies”

With discussion from Thomas Jackson (University of Sheffield), who will also draw comparisons with his research on the French ‘end of empire’ and its legal frameworks and debates surrounding these.

5: 15 – 5:30          Conclusion

All welcome
For more information, please contact Kelsey Suggitt (

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