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French Colonialism in Africa

In 1659, French traders established an outpost at the mouth of the Senegal River in West Africa. They named it Saint-Louis, and over the next several hundred years it would become an entrepĂ´t for the natural resources of Africa, from slaves to mineral and agricultural products. That marked the origin but by no means the limit of French colonialist activity in Africa. Indeed, a positive program of colonization of Africa and Asia drove French foreign policy and was accepted as a feature of its geopolitical prestige right through the first half of the 20th century.

French colonialism was doomed, of course, when the countries of what would later be called the Third World heard the news of self-determination articulated at the United Nations. But despite the nascent anti-imperialism that emerged globally after World War I, there was a strong residue of commitment on the part of imperialist and colonialist powers to hang on to their antique and exotic geographical treasures. A presumption of imperialistic privilege by European powers was fundamental to the exercise of authority over sundry Asian and African locales that had more to do with the history of Europe in Asia or Africa than with the indigenous locales themselves. Longtime nation-state rivalries au courant on European soil even after World War I continued to play themselves out in the far reaches of empire. The feeling in western Europe appears to have been that if (say) France or England gave up Asian or African spheres of influence, Japan or Germany would move right in to occupy the vacuum. In one of the more striking examples of that mind-set, Britain "informally urged the United States to keep the Philippines for itself. . . . increasing the [McKinley] administration's receptivity to frankly imperialistic, annexationist arguments (Thomson, Stanley, and Perry 113).

By no means did colonial France have to be urged, formally or informally. It was tenacious of its colonial pr...

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French Colonialism in Africa. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:25, February 18, 2019, from