Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences

Eurafrica. African perspectives, 1917-1970s

20Nov2018 16:00 - 17:30

Symposium

Dr Anne-Isabel Richard (Leiden University) will give the lecture "Eurafrica. African perspectives, 1917-1970s" in the Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History

Multiple Futurities in a Decolonizing World

Recent work by Fred Cooper and others has drawn attention to federal projects that were explored in the early decolonization period. Eurafrica was one such project. The idea of Eurafrica goes back to the 19th century when it was seen as a common European burden to ‘civilise’ the black continent. In the late 1940s and 1950s it was reconceived in multiple ways by African actors. While future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah emphasised the neo- colonial character, future Senegalese president Léopold Senghor reconceived of Eurafrica for emancipatory purposes. The idea of an interdependent and complementary relationship between the two continents was used in all contexts, although the understanding of that relationship was highly contested.

This paper will examine how actors from the French Union connected to their non- francophone African and European counterparts and developed the Eurafrican idea. As a case study, it will focus on the Council of Europe, which had representatives from the French Union from the start in 1949. These politicians used this European platform to address French policies and European projects and voice their own claims. While the broader project is set in a longer term perspective connecting to current EU-Africa relations, the focus will be on the early 1950s: with European projects under construction and Asia rapidly decolonising, the future of the African colonies was hotly debated and a Eurafrican project was seriously examined.

Part of a larger project examining Eurafrica from Ghanaian and Senegalese civil society perspectives, this paper has two broad aims. Firstly, it contributes to the historiography connecting global, African and European (integration) history. While recently there is more attention for the colonial policies of (the predecessors to) the European Union, this work focuses predominantly on European actors. This paper explicitly engages African actors and examines the interactions between African and European politicians regarding a Eurafrican future. Secondly, while the literature has traditionally emphasised the transition from colony to nation state, this paper will show the importance of alternatives to this binary opposition and thus contribute to the recent historiography that examines (federal) alternatives, examining how multiple futurities, to use David Scott’s term, were imagined and negotiated.

About the speaker

Anne-Isabelle Richard has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge and an M.A. in History and an LL.M. from the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands. Her research interests are European and world history from a transnational and transimperial perspective. She focusses on political, economic, cultural and intellectual links between ideas of European, imperial, regional and global construction and belonging from the late nineteenth century onward. Currently, she is working on a NWO Veni project entitled ‘Eurafrica. African perspectives, 1917-1970s’, in which she analyses the history of the interaction between actors from Europe and Africa relating to the concept of Eurafrica.

Venue: Bushuis

  • Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis

    Kloveniersburgwal 48 | 1012 CX Amsterdam
    +31 (0)20 525 2258

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About the Seminar

The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History is a platform for researchers from different faculties and departments at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University who are working in the field of intellectual history and related disciplines. These include, among others, the history of historical, legal and political thought, conceptual history, the social and cultural history of ideas, as well as research at the intersection between intellectual history, institutions, politics, and practices.

Worldwide, intellectual history is moving into new, exciting directions. Tapping into new source materials, covering longer stretches of time, dealing with broader geographical spaces, making comparisons and drawing connections on a global scale, as well as combining established and new (digital) methods, both young and up-coming as well as established experts are in search for new answers – and perhaps more importantly – new questions. The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History contributes to this development by providing a venue for presenting and discussing frontline research.

The Seminar is jointly organized by:

dr. Camille Creyghton (Cultural Studies, University of Amsterdam / Queen Mary, London)
dr. Boyd van Dijk (European Studies, UvA)
prof. dr. Annelien De Dijn (Political History, UU)
dr. Lisa Kattenberg (History, UvA)
dr. René Koekkoek (Political History, UU)
dr. Matthijs Lok (European Studies, UvA)
Tamara Mercante Thierauf (Student-Assistant, European Studies, UvA)

Published by  Vossius Center