Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960 is, as its author Frederick Cooper tells us, a book about politics. It is equally a book about process. Both the politics and the process prove remarkably fluid, and restoring that fluidity to what has come to be seen as a static scenario is one of the book's key achievements. Cooper's story opens with France and its empire in shambles in the last years of World War II. By the time it comes to a close in 1960, France and formerly French sub-Saharan Africa have been remade in ways that none of the key actors of the time desired or even foresaw. The story of how that happened—of how an unwanted set of new nation-states emerged from an overextended and war-racked empire—provides the narrative arc of this dense, closely argued, and singular work.
Gregory Mann; French Africa's Futures Past. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2017; 37 (2): 399–401. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-4132989
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