Frederick Cooper's Citizenship between Nation and Empire: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960 is a masterwork on the high politics of the end of the French empire in Africa. His elucidation of the attempts by some African political leaders to find a path out of colonial domination that leads through a global French federal sovereignty, rather than the nation-state, is an important contribution. But was there really in practice “the possibility of dismantling empire … without having to choose between French colonialism and national independence”? There are important reasons why the federal utopias of 1946 had no chance of ever being realized. Central to these was the imperial nation-state of France and the forms of French political, economic, and racial privilege that would remain priorities during and after the moment of decolonization. The path that led to the nation-states of Africa after 1960 was already clear by the late 1940s.

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