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African Literature in French


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, France undertook what is often called the “Second Wave” of colonization (as opposed to the “First Wave,” referring to mercantilism and the slave trade), which consisted of extending the administrative control of its colonies to cover them in their entirety, and promoting the values of the “civilization mission.” According to this ideology, European peoples believed it was their “duty” to share their advanced knowledge of science and technology with, presumably, “backward” peoples. Under the Second Republic (1870–1914), France extended its educational system to the colonies, where subjects were required to learn to read and write French, and to study the most canonical works of French literature. In the early to mid-twentieth century, a corpus of literary texts emerged, written in French, by authors from the colonies originally educated in France's republican system, which used the same curriculum in the hexagonal mainland as abroad. This corpus of African literature in French is usually divided geographically into two categories: writings from North Africa, or the “Maghreb” (the term used to denote the region comprising Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia); and those from sub-Saharan Africa (also called West Africa or even “Black” Africa, due to the dark color of the skin of its inhabitants). Many stark differences in culture and language ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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