Manual Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880–1940

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While war news and its related atrocity imagery was exported to Africa via cable and the metropolitan press, the reaction of African newspapers to the outbreak of hostilities was decidedly mixed. In South Africa , the local press initially suppressed some war news and depictions of the Germans as evil, rapacious Huns bent on destruction because local authorities did not want to exacerbate tensions between English and Boer settlers. Perhaps more pertinently, West African newspapers condemned German colonial policies as exploitative and unnecessarily harsh, making the case that an Entente victory stood for humanity and humane principals, whereas a German victory would lead only to savagery and brutality.

The West African press also made the case for imperial unity and the possibility of post-war changes to compensate Africans for their good will and sacrifices in the form of enlistments and donations to war relief funds. These messages were passed on to the public at large by clergy and local politicians in schools , sermons, political speeches, and editorials. To that end, the Rhodesia Herald and Bulawayo Chronicle not only ran pro-war articles, but also spread the stereotype of the murderous Hun via editorials and letters to the editor from self-appointed German-haters.

The extent of propaganda in Africa increased as the war dragged on and both sides sought to recruit soldiers. In South Africa, the decision to take part in the invasion of neighboring German Southwest Africa helped trigger a brief Boer rebellion in October Nevertheless, South African journalists were still wary of stirring up local political factions, lest the resultant divisions split the country and open the door to uprisings by the colored populations. As a result, the press made a conscious choice to downplay or ignore events in Africa, focusing instead on news from the metropole and how the war might affect the South African economy.

Colonial Suspects : Kathleen Keller :

To that end, newspapers like the Matabaele Mail began describing the Germans in East Africa as a barbarian horde and invoked the prospect of a race war via claims that the German governor had issued a call for jihad against Christians. Lest that not be enough to encourage white South Africans to enlist, the Mail also joined other South African newspapers in running articles repeating atrocity stories from Europe and infused with patriotic imagery that emphasized duty, manhood , imperial unity, and the heroic deeds of Canadian and ANZAC troops.

In Southern Rhodesia, the press indulged in similar propaganda efforts due in large part to their participation in the East African campaign. As a result, Rhodesian journalists not only glorified the concept of imperial unity and insisted on the need to assist Britain with men and supplies, but also began arguing that the Germans were sinister, evil, and murderous. While they approved of these efforts on some level, colonial administrators worried that the sensational nature of these stories might trigger unrest among the local African population already upset about late rains and rising prices.

As a result, in late the Rhodesian government created a Native Affairs Department to try and control the flow of information. Meanwhile, in French North and West Africa, newspapers not only routinely carried atrocity stories from the metropole, but also invoked the revolutionary principles of and talked about the need to defend the sacred soil of la Patrie. To aid in this process, the French not only produced new newspapers like Akhbar al Harb in Algeria and El Hark in the Comoros, but also filtered and spread those foreign papers they felt would be most useful to their own war effort.

In addition to print media, European propaganda machines also made grudging use of film to sway public opinion. As the war began, French and British military authorities were reluctant to let cameramen on the front lines. The bulk of shorts, newsreels, and documentaries produced focused primarily on the Western Front, with a heavy emphasis on factual and dispassionate accounts that eschewed the hysteria, hate propaganda, and atrocity stories so prevalent in the press.

Africa and Africans were not well represented in these WWI films because they usually lay beyond the reach of official film-making efforts. Other films and newsreel footage reinforced notions of imperial unity by showing ANZAC troops in the Egyptian campaign and South African politicians receiving imperial honors or speaking in favor of the British war effort. The French ultimately sent some of these films to French West Africa as part of traveling cinema shows to boost recruitment and generate local support for their war effort.

Film-making in Africa itself focused exclusively on the campaign in East Africa and was largely the work of independent cameramen like Walther Dobbertin and wildlife film-maker Cherry Kearton , who filmed German and British forces, respectively. Images of humans were heavily overshadowed by footage of animals and the countryside, hence the message conveyed emphasized the need to subdue the landscape as much as the Germans. During the first few months of the war, the French press worked to boost morale at home and terrify the enemy by popularizing the myth that their African soldiers Tirailleurs were ruthless, savage barbarians armed with bush knives intent on beheading Germans.

As intended, these images of African savagery terrified German troops and prompted Berlin to unleash its own propaganda campaign denouncing the use of colonial troops in Europe. German illustrators produced all kinds of images showing Tirailleurs committing atrocities like taking German ears and collecting enemy heads as souvenirs.

In the summer of , German authorities supplemented these visuals by publishing an official pamphlet entitled Employment, Contrary to International Law, of Coloured Troops upon the European Theatre of War by England and France which repeated atrocity stories and, foreshadowing post-war claims about Die Schwarze Schande [the black shame], alleged that Senegalese soldiers sexually assaulted white women under their control.

More importantly, it argued that their deployment on the Western Front was contrary to international law and would undermine colonialism by destroying African belief in white superiority through exposure to weapons training and the spectacle of European nations fighting one another. The Germans argued that this was thus a violation of white solidarity and a betrayal of the colonial endeavor. Since depictions of African ferocity, regardless of who created them, threatened to make French civilians frightened of the Tirailleurs stationed in their midst, starting in late , French propagandists began working to soften their image.

Rather than brutal savages, Tirailleurs were now depicted as loyal, brave, childlike innocents under the complete control of their white officers and who therefore only posed a threat to the enemies of France. Journals like the Annales Coloniales , the Revue des Troupes Coloniales , and the Revue du Monde Musulman reprinted letters from North and West African soldiers for propaganda purposes to convey their loyalty and the success of the French colonial doctrine of Assimilation.

Visual images underwent a similar transformation, in which depictions of Tirailleurs went from bloodthirsty brutes to naive, sexless, childlike savages who posed no danger to the metropole or the colonial order. Dueling images of alleged African barbarity soon led the British, French, and Germans to indulge in propaganda regarding alleged atrocities committed in Africa prior to and during the war. The goal of these new allegations was to discredit the enemy as a colonial power and lay the groundwork for the post-war redistribution of African territories.

As a result, the bulk of this propaganda was meant for domestic consumption but, as with earlier campaigns, it also soon found its way to Africa. The Germans used stories about the mistreatment of colonized peoples under French and British rule as a central feature of their propaganda in the form of articles in both the German and international press.

Starting in January , the Germans also began arguing that Entente forces in Africa were humiliating interned civilians and prisoners of war by placing them under guard by colonial troops, making them do hard labor without adequate protection from the sun, and subjecting them to poor living conditions. These claims were soon supplemented by a series of official pamphlets which also leveled charges that African soldiers in the British forces murdered captured Germans and mutilated the dead for trophies.

British propagandists soon retaliated in kind with a series of Blue Books that sought to debunk the German claims whilst simultaneously proving systemic brutality and mistreatment of native peoples in the German colonies. In , the British issued their Correspondence Relative to the Alleged Ill-Treatment of German Subjects Captured in Cameroon to refute charges that deported civilians had been mistreated.

The report claimed that British prisoners of war during the Southwest Africa campaign had been mistreated before liberation by being forced to parade half-naked in front of African women, were starved, and were crowded into unsanitary cells. While Africans had access to stories about atrocities in Belgium, changing images of African troops serving in Europe, and allegations about pre-war and wartime atrocities committed in Africa, they were never the primary intended audience for those propaganda efforts.

The official propaganda machines of both the Entente and Central Powers did, however, directly target African Muslims early in the war. The Germans had long cultivated a pro-Muslim image and used their alliance with the Ottomans to portray themselves as champions of Islam. As soon as the war broke out, both the Germans and Ottomans developed propaganda campaigns designed to reach African Muslims in hopes of triggering anti-colonial revolts in French North Africa, Italian Libya, and British Sudan.

These leaflets, which were air dropped on North African troops in Europe and smuggled into British and French West Africa, described the Central Powers as the true defenders of Islam, invoked jihad , and called on Muslim soldiers in Entente armies to desert. Official German efforts were supplemented in by the creation of the Berlin-based Committee for Algerian-Tunisian Independence, which sought to publicize colonial grievances.

Denean Sharpley-Whiting. Bronwen McShea. Ruth Ginio. Jennifer Anne Boittin. Richard C. Kathleen Keller.

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Christopher M. Jonathan K. Andrea E. Gavin Murray-Miller. Harry Gamble. Spencer D. Patricia M. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Facing a guerilla war and a financial catastrophe, the Emperor Maximilian became more and more depressed, leaving the capital for long periods and allowing the Empress Carlota to reign. In Maximilian had sent Carlota to Europe to appeal for funds and support.

She appealed to Napoleon III, but he refused to provide more troops or money. During her tour of European courts, she lost and never regained her sanity. Maximilian refused pleas that he depart, and fought against the growing partisan army of Juarez. He was captured, judged, and shot on 19 June The misadventure in Mexico cost the lives of six thousand French soldiers and million francs, in a campaign originally designed to collect 60 million francs.

It also aroused the hostility of both the United States and Austria, which had lost a member of its royal family. Siege of Puebla , Mexico by the French Army. The intervention in Mexico was a disaster for French foreign policy. Despite the signing of the Cobden—Chevalier Treaty , a historic free trade agreement between Britain and France, and the joint operations conducted by France and Britain in the Crimea, China and Mexico, diplomatic relations between Britain and France never became close.

Lord Palmerston , the British foreign minister from to and prime minister from to , sought to maintain the balance of power in Europe; this rarely involved an alignment with France. In there were even briefly fears that France might try to invade Britain. Palmerston was also concerned that France might intervene in the American Civil War —65 on the side of the South. They tried to oppose its completion by diplomatic pressures and by promoting revolts among workers. The Suez Canal was successfully built by the French, but became a joint British-French project in Both nations saw it as vital to maintaining their influence and empires in Asia.

In , ongoing civil disturbances in Egypt prompted Britain to intervene, extending a hand to France. France's leading expansionist Jules Ferry was out of office, and Paris allowed London to take effective control of Egypt. Washington repeatedly warned that this meant war but the emperor kept this option open, hoping to get Britain as an ally.

The Union blockade of southern ports stopped the supply of cotton to textile mills in France, and caused unemployment. The Confederacy had put their faith in "King Cotton" diplomacy , expecting that the cutoff of cotton supplies would cause Britain and France to declare war to reopen the trade. Through , Napoleon III met unofficially with Confederate diplomats, raising their hopes that he would unilaterally recognize the Confederacy.

France was too weak to act without collaboration with the British, who after much wavering finally rejected intervention as not worth the heavy risk of losing American food exports. Napoleon realized that a war with the U. In , the United States stationed a large combat Army near the Mexican border as a warning sign. Napoleon III pulled the French troops out, and the "emperor" he had imposed on Mexico was captured and shot. Most Frenchmen ignored foreign affairs and colonial issues. In the chief pressure group was the Parti colonial , a coalition of 50 organizations with a combined total of only members.

It was only after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of — and the founding of the Third Republic — that most of France's later colonial possessions were acquired. From their base in Cochinchina, the French took over Tonkin in modern northern Vietnam and Annam in modern central Vietnam in — These, together with Cambodia and Cochinchina, formed French Indochina in to which Laos was added in and Guangzhouwan [62] in In , the French concession in Shanghai was established, lasting until France also extended its influence in North Africa after , establishing a protectorate in Tunisia in with the Bardo Treaty.

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza helped to formalise French control in Gabon and on the northern banks of the Congo River from the early s. The explorer Colonel Parfait-Louis Monteil traveled from Senegal to Lake Chad in —, signing treaties of friendship and protection with the rulers of several of the countries he passed through, and gaining much knowledge of the geography and politics of the region.

Faith in empire : religion, politics, and colonial rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940

This expedition operated jointly with two other expeditions, the Foureau-Lamy and Gentil Missions , which advanced from Algeria and Middle Congo respectively. With the death April of the Muslim warlord Rabih az-Zubayr , the greatest ruler in the region, and the creation of the Military Territory of Chad September , the Voulet-Chanoine Mission had accomplished all its goals. The ruthlessness of the mission provoked a scandal in Paris. As a part of the Scramble for Africa , France aimed to establish a continuous west-east axis across the continent, in contrast with the proposed British north-south axis.

Tensions between Britain and France heightened in Africa. At several points war seemed possible, but no outbreak occurred. French troops tried to claim an area in the Southern Sudan, and a British force purporting to act in the interests of the Khedive of Egypt arrived to confront them. Under heavy pressure the French withdrew, implicitly acknowledging Anglo-Egyptian control over the area. An agreement between the two states recognised the status quo : acknowledging British control over Egypt while France became the dominant power in Morocco , but France suffered a humiliating defeat overall.

At this time, the French also established colonies in the South Pacific , including New Caledonia , the various island groups which make up French Polynesia including the Society Islands , the Marquesas , and the Tuamotus , and established joint control of the New Hebrides with Britain. The French made their last major colonial gains after World War I , when they gained mandates over the former territories of the Ottoman Empire that make up what is now Syria and Lebanon , as well as most of the former German colonies of Togo and Cameroon.


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A hallmark of the French colonial project in the late 19th century and early 20th century was the civilising mission mission civilisatrice , the principle that it was Europe's duty to bring civilisation to benighted peoples. In most cases, the elected deputies were white Frenchmen, although there were some blacks, such as the Senegalese Blaise Diagne , who was elected in As was pointed out in a treatise on French colonial law, the granting of French citizenship to natives "was not a right, but rather a privilege".

From to , only between 3, and 6, native Algerians were granted French citizenship. French conservatives had been denouncing the assimilationist policies as products of a dangerous liberal fantasy. In the Protectorate of Morocco, the French administration attempted to use urban planning and colonial education to prevent cultural mixing and to uphold the traditional society upon which the French depended for collaboration, with mixed results. After World War II, the segregationist approach modeled in Morocco had been discredited by its connections to Vichyism, and assimilationism enjoyed a brief renaissance.

In , the French abolished slavery in most of French West Africa. Forsythe wrote: "From Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Niger in the east what became French Africa , there was a parallel series of ruinous wars, resulting in tremendous numbers of people being violently enslaved. At the beginning of the twentieth century there may have been between 3 and 3.

Critics of French colonialism gained an international audience in the s, and often used documentary reportage and access to agencies such as the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization to make their protests heard. The main criticism was the high level of violence and suffering among the natives. While the first stages of a takeover often involved the destruction of historic buildings in order to use the site for French headquarters, archaeologists and art historians soon engaged in systematic effort to identify, map and preserve historic sites, especially temples such as Angkor Wat, Champa ruins and the temples of Luang Prabang.

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The Berber independence leader Abd el-Krim — organized armed resistance against the Spanish and French for control of Morocco. The Spanish had faced unrest off and on from the s, but in Spanish forces were massacred at the Battle of Annual El-Krim founded an independent Rif Republic that operated until but had no international recognition.

Paris and Madrid agreed to collaborate to destroy it. They sent in , soldiers, forcing el-Krim to surrender in ; he was exiled in the Pacific until Morocco became quiet, and in became the base from which Francisco Franco launched his revolt against Madrid.

By , all of the colonies, except for Indochina under Japanese control, had joined the Free French cause. He assembled the conference of colonial governors excluding the nationalist leaders in Brazzaville in January to announce plans for postwar Union that would replace the Empire. The manifesto angered nationalists across the Empire, and set the stage for long-term wars in Indochina and Algeria that France would lose in humiliating fashion.

However, control was gradually reestablished by Charles de Gaulle. The French Union , included in the Constitution of , nominally replaced the former colonial empire, but officials in Paris remained in full control. The colonies were given local assemblies with only limited local power and budgets. France was immediately confronted with the beginnings of the decolonisation movement. In Algeria demonstrations in May were repressed with an estimated 6, Algerians killed.

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French officials estimated the number of Malagasy killed from a low of 11, to a French Army estimate of 89, The French Union's struggle against the independence movement, which was backed by the Soviet Union and China. France agreed to withdraw its forces from all its colonies in French Indochina , while stipulating that Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel , with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh , and the south becoming the State of Vietnam.

French involvement in Algeria stretched back a century. Ferhat Abbas and Messali Hadj 's movements had marked the period between the two wars, but both sides radicalised after the Second World War. The Algerian War started in Atrocities characterized both sides , and the number killed became highly controversial estimates that were made for propaganda purposes. The political crisis in France caused the collapse of the Fourth Republic, as Charles de Gaulle returned to power in and finally pulled the French soldiers and settlers out of Algeria by Only Guinea refused by referendum to take part in the new colonial organisation.

Senegalese city of Saint-Louis divided over French colonial statue

However, the French Community dissolved itself in the midst of the Algerian War; almost all of the other African colonies were granted independence in , following local referendums. They argued that while de Gaulle was granting independence on one hand, he was creating new ties with the help of Jacques Foccart , his counsellor for African matters.

Foccart supported in particular the Nigerian Civil War during the late s. Robert Aldrich argues that with Algerian independence in , it appeared that the Empire practically had come to an end, as the remaining colonies were quite small and lacked active nationalist movements. However, there was trouble in French Somaliland Djibouti , which became independent in There also were complications and delays in the New Hebrides Vanuatu , which was the last to gain independence in New Caledonia remains a special case under French suzerainty.

French census statistics from show an imperial population, outside of France itself, of Of the total population, The largest colonies were Indochina with The total includes 1. Unlike elsewhere in Europe, France experienced relatively low levels of emigration to the Americas, with the exception of the Huguenots in British or Dutch colonies. France generally had close to the slowest natural population growth in Europe, and emigration pressures were therefore quite small. A small but significant emigration, numbering only in the tens of thousands, of mainly Roman Catholic French populations led to the settlement of the provinces of Acadia , Canada and Louisiana , both at the time French possessions, as well as colonies in the West Indies , Mascarene islands and Africa.

In New France, Huguenots were banned from settling in the territory, and Quebec was one of the most staunchly Catholic areas in the world until the Quiet Revolution. The current French Canadian population, which numbers in the millions, is descended almost entirely from New France's small settler population. Most of these originally settled in the Cape Colony , but have since been quickly absorbed into the Afrikaner population. Encouraging settlement was difficult, and while some immigration did occur, by New France only had a population of some 65, In , there were 30, white colonists on France's colony of Saint-Domingue.

In Dessalines , the first ruler of an independent Haiti St. Domingue , ordered the massacre of whites remaining on the island.

French law made it easy for thousands of colons , ethnic or national French from former colonies of North and West Africa, India and Indochina to live in mainland France. It is estimated that 20, colons were living in Saigon in In November , several thousand of the estimated 14, French nationals in Ivory Coast left the country after days of anti-white violence.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Set of territories that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late s. For the French-speaking portion of Africa, see African French. National Emblem. See also: New France. See also: Category:French colonisation in Africa. Main article: French Senegal. Main article: French campaign against Korea Main article: France in the American Civil War. Main article: Rif War. Free French campaigns. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. July Further information: Decolonization in Africa.

History portal France portal French language and French-speaking world portal. Page, ed. International Studies Quarterly. His section on "Ending the Empire" closes in with the independence of New Hebrides, p. University of Wisconsin Press. Book 1 , Donald F.