Contesting French West Africa

Contesting French West Africa

Battles over Schools and the Colonial Order, 1900–1950

Harry Gamble

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

378 pages
5 photographs, 6 maps, index

Hardcover

September 2017

978-0-8032-9549-0

$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

After the turn of the twentieth century, schools played a pivotal role in the construction of French West Africa. But as this dynamic, deeply researched study reveals, the expanding school system also became the site of escalating conflicts. As French authorities worked to develop truncated schools for colonial “subjects,” many African students and young elites framed educational projects of their own. Weaving together a complex narrative and rich variety of voices, Harry Gamble explores the high stakes of colonial education.

With the disruptions of World War II, contests soon took on new configurations. Seeking to forestall postwar challenges to colonial rule, French authorities showed a new willingness to envision broad reforms, in education as in other areas. Exploiting the new context of the Fourth Republic and the extension of citizenship, African politicians demanded an end to separate and inferior schools. Contesting French West Africa critically examines the move toward educational integration that took shape during the immediate postwar period. Growing linkages to the metropolitan school system ultimately had powerful impacts on the course of decolonization and the making of postcolonial Africa.

 
 

Author Bio

Harry Gamble is an associate professor of French and francophone studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. 
 

Praise

Contesting French West Africa deftly highlights the tensions, contradictions, and unique features of a complex colonial schooling system. Harry Gamble is to be commended for his engagement with many themes, from the sharp contrasts between urban and rural contexts to the windows of cultural opportunity that opened for Africans during World War II.”—Eric T. Jennings, Distinguished Professor in the History of France and the Francophonie at the University of Toronto and author of Free French Africa in World War II: The African Resistance
 

Contesting French West Africa brings to the fore mechanisms of racial segregation, exploding any remaining myths about the assimilationist function of French colonial schools. Harry Gamble skillfully analyzes the history of colonial education alongside the emergence of Negritude. I know of no other historical work that accomplishes this so deftly and seamlessly. Gamble’s book will enable students of French colonial literature and culture to also gain a deeper understanding of the structure and politics of the colonial school.”—Janet Horne, associate professor of French at the University of Virginia and author of A Social Laboratory for Modern France: The Musée Social and the Rise of the Welfare State
 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Conflicting Visions: Framing French West Africa
2. The Lessons of War: Rethinking the Originaires
3. Toward the Interior: Rural Schools and Colonial Reform
4. Reorienting African Schoolteachers: Agents of the Future
5. Léopold Sédar Senghor and the Popular Front: New Possibilities for Reform
6. The National Revolution in AOF: Debating the Future during the War Years
7. Gaullist Hesitations: From the Brazzaville Conference to the Liberation
8. The Education of African “Citizens”: Struggles over Integration
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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