Wednesday 12 April 2023
16.30 - 18.30
European Identities in Africa – Session 2: Going African
Victoriagatan 13, A252
Françoise Blum :
Europeans and/or Africans: Métis Trajectories
Márcia Gonçalves, Márcia Gonçalves
The topic of this presentation will be the trajectories of two half-brothers, born of French fathers and a Sudanese mother, who had very different destinies. Gabriel d'Arboussier, was one of the founders of the Rassemblement démocratique africain after having been a colonial administrator. Although he was a French citizen, he ... (Show more)
The topic of this presentation will be the trajectories of two half-brothers, born of French fathers and a Sudanese mother, who had very different destinies. Gabriel d'Arboussier, was one of the founders of the Rassemblement démocratique africain after having been a colonial administrator. Although he was a French citizen, he chose Africa and became de facto European and African: European by right and African by belief. After independence he chose Senegal where as Minister of Justice he wrote the law of nationality and then made an international career as an African but his European cultural capital was very useful in international institutions. He is buried according to his wishes in Geneva, i.e. in Europe. His half-brother, François Sidibe, from the same mother but a different father who did not acknowledge him, has the typical background of a pupil of the William Ponty school. He became a teacher and had troubles with the administration because he took the side of the Africans too strongly, which, for the administration, did not seem acceptable for a métis.
These trajectories allow us to question the construction of multiple identities, of two Empire’s brothers (Saada 2012): one of whom studied in France as a French citizen, and the other who studied in Senegal as a French subject. (Show less)
Julien Charnay :
The « Lebanese Issue » in Dakar from the Second World War to the Independence of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française). A Middlemen Minority seen from a Colonial Outlook
This article proposal is inspired by a PhD dissertation in History defended at Paris-Nanterre University in November 8th 2021 and supervised by Pr Sabinne Effosse. It intended to study Lebanese and Syrian transnational migrations to French West African colonies, especially Senegal, from their beginning in the 1880s to the 1960s, ... (Show more)
This article proposal is inspired by a PhD dissertation in History defended at Paris-Nanterre University in November 8th 2021 and supervised by Pr Sabinne Effosse. It intended to study Lebanese and Syrian transnational migrations to French West African colonies, especially Senegal, from their beginning in the 1880s to the 1960s, in the aftermath of the independence of the federation of colonial territories, Afrique Occidentale Française. Thanks to the tools of Imperial and Colonial Studies as illustrated by Frederick Cooper’s or Ann Laura Stoler’s work, and to various and recent studies on Lebanese transnational migrations in Africa, we aim at discussing the tensions those migrants’ and merchants’ integration in Senegal aroused within this colonial society. Actually, various colonial actors expressed fears on the end of French colonial empire as it was allegedly overwhelmed by foreign migrants. Those actors claimed to represent whole parts of French colonial society in Senegal like White independent retailers who had long advocated strict limitations or expulsion of Lebanese migrants depicted as political and economic threat to French « mission civilisatrice ». Expressed from the late XIXth century, this colonial and racial dogma had actually justified political domination of the French over African territories due to political and material progess White settlers were supposed to bring to the Africans. But such an anti-migrant rhetoric also stressed imperial contradictions as Lebanon had long been a target of a long-term French influence which justified patronage to those migrants from French authorities.
In order to illustrate thoses tensions and the contradictions of French imperialism it implemented, this article focuses on the political and media activity of Maurice Voisin, a French retailer and journalist settled in Dakar, Senegal, between 1947 and 1956. Through various press campaigns he led in the newspapers he founded, Les Echos africains and Les Echos d’Afrique noire from 1950, he tried to raise an anti-Lebanese awareness among Senegalese society. He depicted migrants as unwanted economic agents and as a potential political threat through Arab nationalism they alledgedly brought into Africa. With such a rhetoric, Maurice Voisin’s press campaigns highlighted French small independent traders’ social downgrading while he intended to save French Empire from massive uprisings. From the aftermarth of the Second World War, it was actually challenged by revolutionnary nationalisms which were particularly deep-rooted in its North African territories or in Syria and Lebanon, two former Société des Nations’ French Mandates which gained independence through violence in 1946. Thus, Maurice Voisin advocated the union of Senegalese society, no matter the racial divides between French settlers and the Senegalese population. Recent studies on Lebanese migration in Africa stressed the reactions of the Lebanese community in Dakar to those racist press campaigns. According to some authors, they were the first step to the birth of a national community overwhelming Lebanese political and religious divides : Afro-Lebanese. From an imperial angle, we will try to show that if those campaigns actually arose collective reactions from Lebanese migrants in Dakar, they illuminated lingereing identity divides and questionned ambiguous positions towards French imperial authority. (Show less)
Christoph Kalter :
White Africans in Post-Imperial Europe. Identity Constructions of Former Portuguese Settlers
In 1974/75, the Portuguese society transitioned from an authoritarian dictatorship to an incipient parliamentary democracy, while Portugal’s African empire disbanded and gave way to independent post-colonial nation-states. In the process, white settlers from Portugal’s erstwhile African settler colonies Angola and Mozambique left their colonies in a panicky mass flight, resettling ... (Show more)
In 1974/75, the Portuguese society transitioned from an authoritarian dictatorship to an incipient parliamentary democracy, while Portugal’s African empire disbanded and gave way to independent post-colonial nation-states. In the process, white settlers from Portugal’s erstwhile African settler colonies Angola and Mozambique left their colonies in a panicky mass flight, resettling in the so-called metropole Portugal, their country of origin and citizenship.
This chaotic “exodus” became the defining experience in the life course of most of these “returnees,” of which over half a million came to Portugal between 1974 and 1979. They arrived in an impoverished nation with only nine million inhabitants that lived through a period of political turmoil, economic recession, social upheaval, and cultural revolution, and where no one seemed to be waiting for them. Cut off from their African homes, much of their belongings, some of their loved ones, as well as from a lifestyle marked by racial privilege, they had to start anew in a country which around a third of these returnees had never visited before, and where they suffered hardships and discrimination by the resident population.
The dramatic experience of departure, arrival, and settling in prompted the settlers-turned-migrants to remake their identities in a new, post-imperial setting. While the returnees were legally Portuguese, and while whiteness and the ability to blend into the host society played an important part in navigating their integration, some also identified, in public and in private, as Africans. This Africanness, (re)constructed under conditions of exile, became a defining trait not only for parts of those who had been born in the African colonies or lived most of their lives there, but also for those who had stayed for shorter periods of time, or who had left as children, spending most of their adult lives in post-imperial Portugal.
This paper will highlight select manifestations of the returnees’ Africanness, as they have been expressed in politics, testimony, literature, social media, and family interactions over the last fifty years. While demonstrating how returnees’ identity constructions and their social functions have varied in shifting memorial contexts, the paper will attempt a provisional answer to this intriguing question: What does it mean to be a white African in post-imperial Europe? (Show less)
Gabriele Montalbano :
Latin Africa. An Euro-African Colonial Project. The Case of the Italian Migrants in French Protectorate of Tunisia
The history of colonial spaces and cultures is often divided into imperial categories following the national narratives resulting from that past. Scholars usually analysed the national and imperial building of European nations taking into account the colonial spaces under their rule. Thanks to my PhD research about the Italian migrations ... (Show more)
The history of colonial spaces and cultures is often divided into imperial categories following the national narratives resulting from that past. Scholars usually analysed the national and imperial building of European nations taking into account the colonial spaces under their rule. Thanks to my PhD research about the Italian migrations in a French colonial space, the Protectorate of Tunisia, I have analysed how national categories have been influenced and challenged by the colonial context especially when there was a connection between labour migrations in foreign colonial possessions. After having demonstrated in my PhD the eminent role of foreign colonial possession in Italian nation-building project, in this paper I would like to frame it in a wider perspective that considers the Wallerstein world theory, colonial bio-politics and trans-imperial connections. Usually, scholars have studied the case of foreign white communities or minorities in the perspective of rivalry towards the colonial authority. In the wake of the studies concerning Eurafrica, I want to consider the link between colonial powers, in this case, France and Italy, focusing on Italian working-class migrants as ‘vital subjects’ of a trans-imperial biopolitical project aiming to build a European or ‘Latin’ Africa in the southern shore of the Mediterranean basin. My interest here is to disclose the case of Italian migrants in Mediterranean Africa to a new and challenging perspective founded on world-theory perspective applied to colonial systems, considering Italy as a semi-periphery imperial power, and international workforce mobility -t he ‘poor-white’ migrants - as intermediary actors in colonial society. (Show less)