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

CONFERENCE. Empire, Labour, Citizenship. Current research on Globalization.


Brussels, 18-20 November 2015

Since the second half of the 19th century, accelerations in the processes of globalization profoundly transformed human communities throughout the world.

This event aims at highlighting current research in human sciences around concepts of empire, labour and citizenship and their connections with the long-term history of mankind. During three days, researchers in history, anthropology and political sciences are invited to reflect together on how political superstructures, workforce management and the making of collective identities contributed to shape today’s globalized societies.

The conference will be closed by a lecture of Pr. Frederick Cooper (New York University), a leading scholar in the History of (post)colonial Africa, and a major contributor to academic debates on these topics.

Day 1. 18 November.

Venue: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, room to be confirmed.

12h-13h. Welcoming and registration.

13h-13h15. Welcome speech: Benoît Henriet (PhD candidate, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles), Romain Tiquet (PhD Candidate – Humboldt University – Berlin).

Panel 1. Empires and the making of global societies.

Discussant/chair : Pr. Kenneth Bertrams (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

13h15-14h45 KEYNOTE : Pr. Eric Vanhaute (Ghent University): ‘Frontiers of Empire. About Land, Labour and Commodities’.

14h45-15h. Coffee break.

15h-15h30. Pr. Paul Fontaine (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles) : ‘De Lyon à Rome – Africains et Syriens en Europe de l’Ouest sous l’Empire romain’.

15h30-16h. Fabienne Chamelot (PhD candidate – University of Portsmouth) – Romain Tiquet (PhD Candidate – Humboldt University – Berlin) : ‘Layers of Colonial Archives, Levels of Imperial Rule: Administrative Tensions between the Federal and the Local Power in AOF, 1936-1939’.

16h-16h30 Clothilde Houot (PhD Candidate – Université Paris 1-Sorbonne): ‘Building National Armies in the Middle Eastern Mandates. The Iraqi and Transjordanian Case’.

16h30-17h. Zaib Un Nisa Aziz (Teaching Fellow. Lahore University of Management Sciences): Passages from India. India anti colonial activism in exile, 1905-1920.

17h-17h30. Concluding remarks and final round of questions.

Day 2. 19 November.

Venue: Université Libre de Bruxelles, local AW.1.121.

8h30-9h30. Welcoming and registration.

Panel 2. The African experience of Labour.

Discussant/Chair: Pr. Benjamin Rubbers (Université de Liège – Université Libre de Bruxelles).

9h30-11h00. KEYNOTE : Dr. Sara Geenen (Antwerp University) : “Artisanal frontier mining of gold In Africa: Labour transformation in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

11h-11h15. Coffee break

11h15-11h45. Pascaline Le Polain (PhD candidate, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles): Punishing the Resisters. Forced Agricultural Labour in Belgian Congo (1940-1945).

11h45-12h15. Adane Kassie Bezabih (PhD Candidate, Addis Ababa University): African Labour and Foreign Capital: The Case of Wonji-Shewa Sugar Estate in Ethiopia, 1951-1974.

12h-15-12h45: Kerstin Stubenvoll (PhD Candidate, Humboldt University – Berlin): ‘Applied sciences’: (Mis)readings and Scopes of Action in Constructing ‘the African Worker’ during decolonization (French Cameroon, 1940s-50s).

12h45-13h15: Benoît Henriet (PhD candidate, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles): ‘Deglobalizing the postcolony? The Changing Faces of Palm oil labour around Kikwit (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 1911-2015’.

12h45-13h45. Lunch break

Panel 3. Citizenship in a (post)colonial world.

Discussant / chair : Pr. Amandine Lauro (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

13h45-15h15. KEYNOTE : Pr. Emma Hunter (University of Edinburgh) : ‘Citizenship in Post-Colonial Africa: Dialogues between Past and Present’.

15h15-15h30. Coffee Break.

15h30-16h. Edenz Maurice (PhD candidate, Centre d’Histoire – Sciences Po Paris): ‘Amerindians, Creoles and Maroons. Schools as laboratories of (post-)colonial citizenship in French Guiana, 1930s to 1960s ‘.

16h-16h30. Marie Fierens (Postdoctoral Fellow – Université Libre de Bruxelles) – Ornella Rovetta (Postdoctoral Fellow – Université Libre de Bruxelles) : ‘Citizenship at a Crossroads: Transitions and Elites in Congo and Rwanda c.1950-1962’.

16h30-17h. Alexander Knoth (PhD candidate, University of Potsdam): ‘The Social Construction of the Citizen. Patterns of political membership and belonging in the EU (1945-2011)’.

17h-17h30. Sarah Demart (Researcher, Université de Liège): ‘Postcolonial citizenship in Belgium: the case of the Belgian-Congolese in the era of globalisation’.

17h30-18h. Concluding remarks and final round of questions.

Day 3. 20 November.

Venue: Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles, local P-61

9h-9h45. Welcoming and registration.

9h45-10h: Welcome speech: Pr. Nathalie Tousignant (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles).

10h-12h. Keynote Pr. Frederick Cooper (New York University) : “Empire and Beyond: Power and the State in the 20th Century”.

Discussants : Pr. Nathalie Tousignant (Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles), Pr. Emma Hunter (University of Edinburgh), Pr. Véronique Dimier (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

12h-13h. Lunch Break.

13h-14h30. Concluding roundtable : with Pr. Frederick Cooper, Pr. Véronique Dimier, Pr. Nathalie Tousignant, Pr. Emma Hunter.

More information here