Public talk by Frederick Cooper, invited professor at the Paris IAS.
Respondent: Dieter Gosewinkel, Paris IAS Fellow
Frederick Cooper is professor of history at the New York University. His areas of research include modern Africa, empires in world history, colonization and decolonization, and the social sciences and the colonial situation
Citizenship beyond the Nation: Decolonization and Federalism in Post-War France and French Africa
At the end of World War II, the central demand of political leaders in French West and Equatorial Africa was for the rights of the citizen–the French citizen that is. Less clear was the level of political affiliation where citizenship was to be located. "Citizenship of empire," to use an expression of Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1945? Ctizenship of the French Republic? Of the French Union, as the Empire was renamed? Of empire transformed into a federation of European and African components? Of a federation of francophone African territories? Of a confederation embracing both a federated Africa and a France that no longer claimed a dominant position? Or–as French leaders contemplated political community in Europe–of "Eurafrica," combining two sorts of supra-national relationships, with former colonies and with former rivals? African leaders wanted citizenship to be portable, something they could exercise in their own territories, in European France and elsewhere, and some wanted rights to be enforceable away from the conflicts and temptations of local politics. All these possibilities were on the table. Least attractive to the elites of both metropolitan France and French Africa throughout the 1950s was the alternative that eventually came into being: the separation of citizenships into those of "France" and of each of its former colonies. This talk explores the range of alternative meanings of citizenship that were in play at a recent moment in French history.
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