The public but mysterious death of Diery Fall – A Talk by Prof. James McDougall

An event of Exeter’s Centre for the Study of War, State and Society seminar on the theme of violence, law and honour in French Senegal that might be of interest to readers of the Forum. Professor James McDougall (Trinity College, Oxford) is to speak to the title, ‘The public but mysterious death of Diery Fall: Violence, law, and honour in French Senegal, 1904’.

Date 30 January 2019
Time 14:00 to 16:00
Place Forum Seminar Room 01


In April 1904, Henry Chautemps, an indigenous affairs officer and district administrator, was murdered in his office in the town of Thiès, near Dakar. Chautemps was the son of the politician and former colonial minister Emile Chautemps (his brother Camille would later become prime minister). This connection made his killing a minor sensation in Senegal and in France, where “the Chautemps affair” was discussed in newspapers and the instigators of “the Thiès insurrection” were pictured on postcards. The “affair” led to the final act in the long story of the abolition of slavery in Senegal. But another death, one that ended the manhunt for Chautemps’ assassins, tells us much more about what was going on in this corner of France’s African empire. Jeeri Joor Ndella Fall (Diery Fall), the Senegalese noble whose retainer killed Chautemps, whom Chautemps had tried to imprison for enslavement, and who was held responsible for the “insurrection”, remains a heroic figure in Senegalese oral tradition.

This paper, part of a larger ongoing book project, considers the public but mysterious death of Diery Fall — was he killed, or did he commit suicide? — as a microhistory to examine the themes of slavery, status, honour, masculinity, law, and violence that were being acted out and reshaped in this period.

Further details can be found here.