L’Armée Francaise, ses Soldats Africains et la Décolonisation en Afrique Occidentale Francaise
Professor Ruth Ginio
On January 22, 2014, WARC hosted a talk on the French armed forces, African soldiers, and decolonization in French West Africa. Ruth Ginio, the speaker, is a professor at Ben Gurion University in Neguev, Israel.
At the outset of her talk, Professor Ginio pointed to the renewed popularity of the decolonization of French West Africa as a topic of academic research. This renewed interest, she contends, will help focus attention on the role of African colonial soldiers in the French army (e.g., Tirailleurs Sénégalais) in the decolonization of the African territories from which they were enlisted.
Professor Ginio elaborated on the many strategies used by French colonial authorities to counter the role and influence of Africans in the future liberation of their countries. Such stratagems included pitching North African Muslims against sub-Saharan Muslims on the grounds that they practiced two different Islamic creeds, and in focusing on racial differences to fan potential conflicts.
Professor Ginio is about to publish a book on the topic and is the author of several articles on French colonial history in West Africa. She is also the author of French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa, a copy of which was donated to the WARC library.
The talk was attended by 32 people including researchers, students, reporters and members of the larger public whose questions and contributions substantially enlivened the discussion.