The French Colonial Mind, 2-volume set


The French Colonial Mind, 2-volume set

Edited and with an introduction by Martin Thomas

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

864 pages


January 2012


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

January 2012


$75.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Volume 1: What made France into an imperialist nation, ruler of a global empire with millions of dependent subjects overseas? Historians have sought answers to this question in the nation’s political situation at home and abroad, its socioeconomic circumstances, and its international ambitions. But all these motivating factors depended on other, less tangible forces, namely, the prevailing attitudes of the day and their influence among those charged with acquiring or administering a colonial empire. The French Colonial Mind explores these mind-sets to illuminate the nature of French imperialism. The first of two linked volumes, this book brings together fifteen leading scholars of French colonial history to investigate the origins and outcomes of imperialist ideas among France’s most influential “empire-makers.” Considering French colonial experiences in Africa and Southeast Asia, the authors identify the processes that made Frenchmen and women into ardent imperialists. By focusing on attitudes, presumptions, and prejudices, these essays connect the derivation of ideas about empire, colonized peoples, and concepts of civilization with the forms and practices of French imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors to The French Colonial Mind place the formation and the derivation of colonialist thinking at the heart of this history of imperialism.

Volume 2: Violence was prominent in France’s conquest of a colonial empire, and the use of force was integral to its control and regulation of colonial territories. What, if anything, made such violence distinctly colonial? And how did its practitioners justify or explain it? These are issues at the heart of The French Colonial Mind: Violence, Military Encounters, and Colonialism. The second of two linked volumes, this book brings together prominent scholars of French colonial history to explore the many ways in which brutality and killing became central to the French experience and management of empire.

Sometimes concealed or denied, at other times highly publicized and even celebrated, French violence was so widespread that it was in some ways constitutive of colonial identity. Yet such violence was also destructive: destabilizing for its practitioners and lethal or otherwise devastating for its victims. The manifestations of violence in the minds and actions of imperialists are investigated here in essays that move from the conquest of Algeria in the 1830s to the disintegration of France’s empire after World War II. The authors engage a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from the violence of first colonial encounters to conflicts of decolonization. Each considers not only the forms and extent of colonial violence but also its dire effects on perpetrators and victims. Together, their essays provide the clearest picture yet of the workings of violence in French imperialist thought.

Author Bio

Martin Thomas is a professor of colonial history at Exeter University. He is the author of several books, including The French Empire Between the Wars: Imperialism, Politics, and Society and Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder after 1914.


"[The French Colonial Mind] illuminates many crucial aspects of empire."—T. P. Johnson, Choice

"The French Colonial Mind is a well-conceived and well-executed edited collection. It is undoubtedly a significant work, being of interest to both scholars of French Colonial history and of those looking to improve their understanding of the ways in which imperial thinking shaped the modern world."—Marcia Goncalves, European Review of History

"A welcome addition to the field. For those who teach the French empire to Anglophone students, the collection will prove highly valuable as a point of access to a wealth of different topics and territories."—Claire Eldridge, French History

Table of Contents

Introduction. Mapping the French Colonial Mind (Martin Thomas, Exeter University)
Part 1: Colonial Encounters and Imaginings of Empire
1. Reflections on the Colonial Mind (Patricia Lorcin, University of Minnesota)
2. Intellectuals for Empire? The Imperial Training of Féicien Challaye (1899-1914) (Emmanuelle Sibeud, University of Paris VIII)
3. Colonial Minds and African Witchcraft: Interpretations of Murder as Seen in Cases from French West Africa in the Interwar Era (Ruth Ginio, Gen Gurion University of the Negev)
4. The Colonial Cosmology of Fernand Braudel (John Strachan, Manchester University)
5. Mental Maps of Modernity in Colonial Indochina during World War II: Mobilizing Sport to Combat Threats to French Rule (Anne Raffin, National University of Singapore)
Part 2: Language, Culture, and Communities of the Colonial Mind
6. Anti-Clericalism, French Language Policy, and the Conflicted Colonial Mind in Cameroon 1923-1939 (Kenneth Orosz, University of Maine at Farmington)
7. Information and Intelligence Collection among Imperial Subjects Abroad: The Case of Syrians and Lebanese in Latin America, 1915-1930 (Maria Del Mar Logrono, University of California-Santa Barbara)
8. Inter-Confessional Rivalry and Cultural Policy-Making in Lebanon under the French Mandate (Jennifer Dueck, Cambridge University)
9. France's Arabic Educational Reforms in Algeria during the Colonial Era: Language Instruction in Colonial and Anticolonial Minds before and after Algerian Independence (James D. Le Sueur, University of Nebraska)
Part 3: Administrators and the Colonial Mind after World War II
10. Thinking Like an Empire: Governor Henri Laurentie and Postwar Plans for the Late Colonial French 'Empire-State (Martin Shipway, Birkbeck College)
11. Recycling Empire: French Colonial Administrators at the Heart of European Development Policy (Veronique Dimier, Universite Libre de Bruxelles)
12. Friend or Foe? Competing Visions of Empire in French West Africa in the Run-up to Independence (Tony Chafer, University of Portsmouth)
13. Thinking between Metropole and Colony: The French Republic, 'Exceptional Promotion,' and the 'Integration' of Algerians (1955-1962) (Todd Shepard, The Johns Hopkins University)
14. Rigged Elections? Democracy and Manipulation in the Late Colonial State in French West Africa and Togo, 1944-1958 (Alexander Keese, Centro de Estudos Africanos, University of Porto)

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