Citizenship between Empire and Nation

Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 512
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    Citizenship between Empire and Nation
    Book Description:

    As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too.Citizenship between Empire and Nationexamines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state, and empire in a time of acute uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires.

    Frederick Cooper explains how African political leaders at the end of World War II strove to abolish the entrenched distinction between colonial "subject" and "citizen." They then used their new status to claim social, economic, and political equality with other French citizens, in the face of resistance from defenders of a colonial order. Africans balanced their quest for equality with a desire to express an African political personality. They hoped to combine a degree of autonomy with participation in a larger, Franco-African ensemble. French leaders, trying to hold on to a large French polity, debated how much autonomy and how much equality they could concede. Both sides looked to versions of federalism as alternatives to empire and the nation-state. The French government had to confront the high costs of an empire of citizens, while Africans could not agree with French leaders or among themselves on how to balance their contradictory imperatives. Cooper shows how both France and its former colonies backed into more "national" conceptions of the state than either had sought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5028-0
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XIV)
    Frederick Cooper
    (pp. XV-XVIII)
    (pp. 1-25)

    In the decades after World War II, the colonial empires in Africa gave way to over forty nation-states. How can we think about the manner in which this transformation took place? The words of Mamadou Dia—one of the leading political activists of French West Africa in the 1950s, later Senegal’s first prime minister—should make us think beyond the conventional narrative of nationalist triumph. They should make us rethink as well the standard view of global political history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a long and inexorable transition from empire to nation-state. Nation and modernity, we are...

    (pp. 26-66)

    World War II created a situation of uncertainty in which African political activists, among others, could work to pry a small opening into a larger one. All concerned were inventing new political forms as they went along. But they were well aware that the starting point for rethinking France was the concept of empire: an unequal and composite political structure.¹ The politics of metropolitan France were also uncertain; the relative strength of different political formations and their projects for reforming French society remained to be seen. But, after the disastrous period of defeat and rule by a collaborationist, antirepublican regime,...

    (pp. 67-123)

    Whatever the arguments in 1944 and 1945 over Africans’ capacity to act like any other voters and legislators, a basic change in political imagination was becoming evident: the taken-for-granted quality of white men dominating black men and women no longer held. With the opening of the Assemblée Nationale Constituante (ANC) in December 1945, a small block of deputies came with clear determination to represent the interests and desires of people who had been colonized. They would face the task of influencing, as a small minority, the writing of a new constitution as well as writing immediately necessary legislation. The Africans...

    (pp. 124-164)

    Having worked hard to keep in place the citizenship clauses that they thought they had won in April and were almost taken away in September, the deputies from French Africa knew that things could evolve for the better or change for the worse. They would be fighting repeated battles with individuals and groups that wanted to restore old-style colonialism. Even people who wished to see a more egalitarian, more participatory polity emerge out of colonial empire were not necessarily sure how, or if, respect for difference and assertions of equality could be reconciled.¹ If we are to understand this period,...

  10. CHAPTER 4 CLAIMING CITIZENSHIP: French West Africa, 1946–1956
    (pp. 165-213)

    The politics of citizenship played out in African cities and countryside as well as in Paris, in popular mobilization as well as legislative controversy, in regard to issues of livelihood, of institutional change, and of basic conceptions of political life. This chapter considers different instances of African claim making, and it hardly exhausts the locations, participants, and idioms of African politics. First, we look at the effort of the RDA in the Sudan and especially the Côte d’Ivoire to build up its political apparatus across the territory and the efforts of the government to combat what it saw as a...

  11. CHAPTER 5 REFRAMING FRANCE: The Loi-Cadre and African Federalism, 1956–1957
    (pp. 214-278)

    The loi-cadre—framework law—of 1956 is widely recognized as a turning point in the history of French Africa. To some African intellectuals today, it is the moment when Africa’s fate was sealed. Africa was “balkanized,” as Senghor said at the time. The territorially bounded system of government entrenched by the law would become the basis for the independent states of former French Africa. Those states have, in the past fifty years, produced a deeply troublesome record on the issues that concerned African political actors in 1956: democratic elections, equality, rights, economic development, education. However, for Africans at the time...

  12. CHAPTER 6 FROM OVERSEAS TERRITORY TO MEMBER STATE: Constitution and Conflict, 1958
    (pp. 279-325)

    France, as it handed over power and burdens to African territorial governments, seemed to be trying to conserve what mattered most to it, sovereignty. A constitution that proclaimed the Republic to be one and indivisible remained in place, even if the relationship of the French Republic, overseas territories, French West Africa, and the French Union was ambiguous and contested.¹ At the same time, France was conceding a set of sovereignfunctionsin a different direction—to Europe. Senghor thought France was doing in Europe what African territories should do: assert their autonomy and proceed to “abandonments of sovereignty.” Independence on...

    (pp. 326-371)

    All the territories of French West and Equatorial Africa, with the exception of Guinea, were by late 1958 Member States of the French Community. They quickly moved within that framework to make claims—for fuller autonomy, for fuller recognition of their personalities. By 1959, some of their leaders were pushing one step further—for recognition of the nationalities of the Member States, all the while claiming the benefits of French citizenship.

    But where did the nation lie? Africans insisted they wanted unity but were divided over what it meant. With more capacity for self-government, with more at stake in elections...

    (pp. 372-430)

    For all the political dynamism evident in late 1959, it was clear that none of the major actors would be able to obtain what he most wanted. De Gaulle had sought a federation with a strong center, a single citizenship and nationality, and a commitment from all those accepting the new constitution to remain in the French Community. He ended up with a structure that was neither federal nor confederal, with multiple nationalities, and with territories that could exercise their right to independence whenever they chose to do so. Houphouët-Boigny had seen his own version of federalism slip away during...

    (pp. 431-448)

    The spectrum of ideas through which the leaders of African and European France approached politics between 1945 and the early 1960s was much wider than a dichotomy of colonial empire and independent nation-state. The meanings of citizenship, nationality, and sovereignty were not set. They were the object of political contestation, not just the subject of treatises of jurists or philosophers. The stakes in how they were defined were high, for a Senegalese seeking better pay in Dakar or a job in Lyon, for a political leader trying to mobilize a constituency in Bamako or in the suburbs of Marseille.


    (pp. 449-466)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 467-494)