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Egalité, complémentarité et solidarité: the politics of Francophonie and development aid to culture in francophone Africa

Walsh, Antony (1999) Egalité, complémentarité et solidarité: the politics of Francophonie and development aid to culture in francophone Africa. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Despite a discourse claiming that French cultural aid (coopération culturelle) to former sub-Saharan colonies was an essential part of a largely disinterested project, it was in fact subject to political pressures concerned with maintaining French great power status and African elite access to French education. By exploring both the ambiguities of the discourse of Francophonie, and its institutional forms, I show that the relations it promoted did not for most of the period considered alter those created in the immediate years after independence in France’s colonies. Starting with an overview of French colonial policies (Chapter One) I consider how they reflected the underlying assumptions of assimilation, association and the mission civilisatrice, before assessing the importance of educational factors in decolonisation (Chapter Two). Although the debates over colonial theory were of limited significance in application, the provision of colonial education was sufficient to create a French cultural sphere of influence permitting close relations between French and African elites. The most significant sign of this was the ambiguous concept of francophonie defined by Léopold Senghor. Part Two confronts discourses of coopération culturelle with policy implementation. Ministry archives reveal that political priorities were not always compatible with a universalist discourse portraying French to be a language for the masses. The comprehensive sectors of French coopération culturelle reveal a dependency relationship that France could, however, never totally control. This is illustrated through the example of French aid to the Ivory Coast. Part Three studies how the concept of Francophonie developed into an international organisation to unite French-speaking states and communities for cultural and political dialogue. Despite various projects, including one proposed by the post-colonial African grouping OCAM1, France made few concessions to established patterns of bilateral relations and suspected Canada of seeking to usurp France in its traditional sphere of influence (pré-carré). When the initial organisation was reformed the underlying rivalries and suspicions amongst its main funders made it difficult to establish a clear function for this form of diplomatic interaction. Part Four considers the wider questions of the role of French and language planning for African languages together with the ‘cultural dimension of development’. This section assesses why the inclusion of African culture in development has been rejected. Political and economic reasons have dominated African approaches to this question until recently, when there has been a realisation that states cannot continue to deny their multicultural and multilingual heritage without jeopardising long-term sustainable development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Francophonie, France, Africa, decolonisation, culture, francophone africa
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Modern Languages and Cultures (Leeds) > French (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.525806
Depositing User: Dr Antony Walsh
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2010 10:34
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1170

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