Sydney’s Global Slavery Scandal of 1857

Sugarcane harvesters, Reunion Island c.1885
Sugarcane harvesters, Reunion Island

Karin Speedy
Macquarie University, Sydney
Follow on Twitter @KarinESpeedy

In 1857, 51 Gilbertese (I-Kiribati) and 14 Solomon Islanders were spirited away from their homes. They were transported on the Sydney-based barque Sutton, and then sold as indentured sugar labourers on the French-owned island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. When the scandal hit the shores of Sydney, the incident  shifted from a global diplomatic dispute between the British and French empires to a local story, revealing the complexity of the colonial space where culpability was tied to local politics, class, and notions of nationality.[1] Continue reading “Sydney’s Global Slavery Scandal of 1857”

Beyond Françafrique: France Outside of its Traditional Sphere of African Influence

Beyond Françafrique:

France outside of its traditional sphere of African influence (19th-21st centuries)

Sciences Po, Paris, Centre d’Histoire, Friday 20 November 2015

The study of France’s policy in Africa has frequently focused on the interactions with its (former) Empire, the “pré-carré”. This has given rise to a narrative of uniqueness and exceptionality, whilst simultaneously contributing to critiques of France as a “neo-colonial” actor in Africa. However, a growing body of new scholarly research suggest that the time is now ripe for a reassessment of this restrictive vision.

The progressive opening up of archives in France and elsewhere, along with the expansion of global and connected histories of empire and decolonisation, has shed new light on the France’s presence in Africa in colonial and post-independence era. Continue reading “Beyond Françafrique: France Outside of its Traditional Sphere of African Influence”

What’s So Shocking about the Wretched of the Earth?

fanon wretched of the earth

Richard Toye
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) was a psychiatrist, intellectual and revolutionary. Born in the French Caribbean colony of Martinique, Fanon spent significant periods of his life in France and, crucially, Algeria. There he became an active member of the Front de Libération Nationale that fought, with ultimate success, against French rule. His most famous work The Wretched of the Earth, published shortly before his death from leukaemia, is a classic of decolonization literature. As Jean-Paul Sartre put it in his preface:  Continue reading “What’s So Shocking about the Wretched of the Earth?”

Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and the Roads of Empire

Cross-posted from Exeter’s College of Humanities News

Thomas Fight or FlightA new book by the Centre’s Professor Martin Thomas shows how Britain’s impending withdrawal from Afghanistan and France’s recent dispatch of troops to the troubled Central African Republic are but the latest indicators of a long-standing pattern of decolonisation.

Since 1945 most British and French overseas security operations have taken place in places with current or past empire connections. Most of these actions occurred in the context of the contested end of imperial rule  or decolonisation. Some were extraordinarily violent; others, far less so. Continue reading “Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and the Roads of Empire”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Marc-William Palen

From the surprising American support for globalization and remembering the life of an influential U.S. imperial historian, to the fascinating legacies of Dien Bien Phu and the American war in Vietnam. Here are this week’s top picks in imperial & global history.

America’s Role in the World 
Wall Street Journal

Less Military Interventionism, More Trade?

New WSJ/NBC news polls provide what for some might seem to be contradictory opinions regarding how Americans see their country engaging with the globe.

The studies show Americans have consistently opposed military interventionism since 2003. Also, whereas in September 2001 only 14% of respondents felt the United States should become less active in world affairs, the number has skyrocketed to 47% in April 2014.

WSJ poll 1

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Prelude to Intervention: French Wars in Africa, Part I

Map: "French geopolitics in Africa and Foccart's legacy" (1960-1991), from Bat's article in Afrique Contemporaine.
Map: “French geopolitics in Africa and Foccart’s legacy” (1960-1991), from Bat’s article in Afrique Contemporaine.

Jean-Pierre Bat
Research Associate, Centre for War, State and Society
Author of Le syndrome Foccart (2012)

In the first of his two-part Forum essay, Dr. Bat illuminates the distinct colonial and post-colonial history that helps explain current French military policy in Africa (1950s-present).

Today, the French Parliament will vote on the country’s present military engagement in the Central African Républic (CAR). Why? Because it remains a (poorly understood) constitutional requirement that any French military intervention overseas be approved by the National Assembly after every four months. Moreover, even if President Nicholas Sarkozy and his successor, François Hollande, have sought to republicanize France’s wars in Africa – dressing them in the clothes of democratic legitimacy and UN approval – the locations and priorities underpinning those interventions speak to a post-colonial inheritance dating back to the 1950s and the era of ‘Mr. Africa’, Jacques Foccart. Continue reading “Prelude to Intervention: French Wars in Africa, Part I”