Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa / Edition 1

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This authoritative volume changes our conceptions of "imperial" and "African" history. Frederick Cooper gathers a vast range of archival sources to achieve a truly comparative study of colonial policy toward African labor forces. He shows how African trade union and political leaders used the new language of social change to claim equality and a share of power. In the end, Britain and France could not reshape African society. As they left the continent, the question was how they had affected the ways in which Africans could reorganize society themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"His book provides a monumental account of major stage in this mediation..." Ralph A. Austen, American Historical Review

"This is a magnificantly researched and richly detailed account of the complex struggles over labour and colonial policies in French and British Africa." Jane Parpart, International History Review

"...a formidable book. ...not only in its length, but also in the prodigious range of its archival sources, and the brilliance and variety of its case studies. ...its theoretical ambition sets this book apart from conventional work in labor history. Cooper successfully combines the insights of discourse analysis with the strenghts of social history. This is a superb analysis of the colonial state that at the same time constitutes a major breakthrough in African labor history. It convinces by the sheer excellence of its historical research as well as the careful contextualization of its unremittingly theoretical vision. It deserves to be read well beyond the normal bounds of African studies." Christiane Harzig, Labor History

"This is a formidable book. It is formidable not only in its length, but also in thr prodigious rangeof its archival sources, and its brillianceand variety of its case studies" Labour History

"This is an important book by a leading Africanist labor historian." Michael O. West, Journal of Social History

"...elegant and erudite...." Sara Berry, Africa Today

"One has come to expect insightful historical analysis from Frederick Cooper, and his latest work does not diappoint. In size, scope, and depth this is a big book, drawing heavily on original research.... Gracefully written subtle, ironic, andprofound, it is a very important book as well." David Northup, Historian

"Frederick Cooper's work has consistently deserved the favorable and excited attention it has received. This book, like the rest of his corpus, is extensively researched and extremely original. The field of African historical studies is once again in debt to this fine scholar." Richard Rathbone, Int'l Jrnl of Afri Hist Soc

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521566001
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Series: African Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 700
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Part I. The Dangers of Expansion and the Dilemmas of Reform: 2. The labor question unposed; 3. Reforming imperialism, 1935–40; 4. Forced labor, strike movements, and the idea of development, 1940–45; Part II. Imperial Fantasies and Colonial Crises: 5. Imperial plans; 6. Crises; Part III. The Imagining of a Working Class: 7. The systematic approach: the French code du Travail; 8. Family wages and industrial relations in British Africa; 9. Internationalists, intellectuals, and the labor question; Part IV. Devolving Power and Abdicating Responsibility: 10. The burden of declining empire; 11. Delinking colony and metropole: French Africa in the 1950s; Conclusion: 12. The wages of modernity and the price of sovereignty.

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