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POSTPONED “Decolonization at Sixty: Francophone Africa Six Decades from Independence” Conference

March 26, 2020 - March 28, 2020



Sponsored by the Law School and African Studies, with the Center for German and European Studies. Organized by Professor Jason Yackee.

This event will offer an intellectually rigorous and cross-disciplinary exploration of the process of decolonization in Francophone Africa. The conference theme is inspired by the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of formal independence in much of French-controlled Africa. Our interest, however, is not in explaining or understanding the granting of formal independence as a discrete event of the past. Rather, we are interested in exploring decolonization as an ongoing process through which France and its former possessions have struggled over the course of decades to redefine relationships of complex and lasting interdependence. The course of that struggle reflects acts of agency, both by France and by her African counterparts, but it also reflects the stickiness of past arrangements and the shocks of dramatic global political and economic change. The conference will address this theme from two interrelated angles.

First, we want to explore the current contours of Franco-African interdependence, and how they came to be, especially in relation to where France and her newly sovereign partners started sixty years ago. And we want to understand how much or how little progress France and Francophone Africa—including France’s former possessions in the Maghreb—have made in addressing some of the most important socio-economic challenges resulting from or brought to the surface by formal decolonization. The result, we hope, will be a bilan (accounting) in the truest sense—a balance sheet that appraises where decolonization stands, and how it got there, and where it is going, both for France and her former African possessions.

Learn more about the conference. 


Mamadou Diouf, Professor of African Studies, Columbia University

Mamadou Diouf is the Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and the Director of Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Before joining the faculty at Columbia University, he was the Charles D. Moody Jr. Collegiate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Michigan, from 2000 to 2007. Before that, he was Head of the Research, Information, and Documentation Department of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and faculty member of the History Department of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal.

His research interests include urban, political, social and intellectual history in colonial and postcolonial Africa. His publications include: Tolerance, Democracy, and Sufis in Senegal [ed. 2013], New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, and Power (with Mara A. Leichtman) [2009], La Construction de l’Etat au Sénégal (with M. C. Diop & D. Cruise O’Brien) [2002], Histoire du Sénégal: Le Modèle Islamo-Wolof et ses Périphéries [2001], Histoires et Identités dans la Caraïbe. Trajectoires Plurielles (with Ulbe Bosma) [2004]; Les Jeunes, Hantise de l’espace public dans les sociétés du sud? (with R. Collignon) [2001] ; Les figures du politique : Des pouvoirs hérités aux pouvoirs élus (with M. C. Diop) [1999] ; L’Historiographie indienne en débat. Sur le nationalisme, le colonialisme et les sociétés postcoloniales (edited) [1999] ; Academic Freedom and Social Responsibility of the Intellectuals in Africa (with Mahmood Mamdani) [1994]; Le Sénégal sous Abdou Diouf (with M.C. Diop) [1990]; La Kajoor au XIXe siècle : Pouvoir Ceddo et Conquête Coloniale [1990].

Professor Diouf is a member of the editorial board of several professional journals including the Journal of African History (Cambridge), Psychopathologie Africaine (Dakar), la vie des idées.fr (Paris), Public Culture, and a co-editor (with Peter Geschiere) of the book series, Histoires du Sud/Histories of the South published by Karthala, Paris and New National Histories in Africa published by Palgrave MacMillan.



March 26, 2020
March 28, 2020
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