« Back to all events

The Decolonisation of History: Historians and Historical Consciousness in Francophone and Anglophone Anti-Colonial Communities, 1930-1970

Dates:
  • Wed 10 Jan 2018 15.00 - 17.30
  Add to Calendar 2018-01-10 15:00 2018-01-10 17:30 Europe/Paris The Decolonisation of History: Historians and Historical Consciousness in Francophone and Anglophone Anti-Colonial Communities, 1930-1970

This thesis examines the role of historical thinking and historical knowledge in anti-colonial ideology, in a process identified as the ‘decolonization of history.’ This study argues that historical thinking was central to anticolonial discourses during the period 1930-1970, and traces the evolution of ‘historical rhetoric’ across the chronology of decolonisation. Informed by both the history of ideas and imperial history, it presents a detailed study of sources demonstrating the role of historians in decolonization by means of anti-colonial networks and publications across the French and British empires. Secondly, it highlights the historiographical phenomenon which this event produced, the decolonization of the discipline of history. This work is shaped biographically using the legacies of Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Cheikh Anta Diop, CLR James, and Melville Herskovits. These thinkers not only represent different linguistic backgrounds and social stratum, but also variations in anti-colonial thought, including Négritude, Afrocentrism, and Marxism. However, the commonality between these thinkers is their identification of historical mythologizing as a crucial component of imperial ideology. Furthermore, their work shows the point at which anti-colonial historical thinking became essential to the project of decolonization. They referred not only to the desire to convince others of the richness and complexity of African history, but to their lifelong struggles with colonial narratives which, they argued, withheld or misinterpreted the historical facts imperative to self-knowledge, and sovereignty. The objectivity of these thinkers, much debated by recent scholars, is not the focus of this thesis. Rather, this thesis treats all historical knowledge as a project intricately bound to power, and the quest for believability. By re-examining history as a mobilising device in the context of empire and decolonisation, we can learn more about how historians function as part of a normative education system, and what happens when the norm is perverted, or questioned.

Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

This thesis examines the role of historical thinking and historical knowledge in anti-colonial ideology, in a process identified as the ‘decolonization of history.’ This study argues that historical thinking was central to anticolonial discourses during the period 1930-1970, and traces the evolution of ‘historical rhetoric’ across the chronology of decolonisation. Informed by both the history of ideas and imperial history, it presents a detailed study of sources demonstrating the role of historians in decolonization by means of anti-colonial networks and publications across the French and British empires. Secondly, it highlights the historiographical phenomenon which this event produced, the decolonization of the discipline of history. This work is shaped biographically using the legacies of Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Cheikh Anta Diop, CLR James, and Melville Herskovits. These thinkers not only represent different linguistic backgrounds and social stratum, but also variations in anti-colonial thought, including Négritude, Afrocentrism, and Marxism. However, the commonality between these thinkers is their identification of historical mythologizing as a crucial component of imperial ideology. Furthermore, their work shows the point at which anti-colonial historical thinking became essential to the project of decolonization. They referred not only to the desire to convince others of the richness and complexity of African history, but to their lifelong struggles with colonial narratives which, they argued, withheld or misinterpreted the historical facts imperative to self-knowledge, and sovereignty. The objectivity of these thinkers, much debated by recent scholars, is not the focus of this thesis. Rather, this thesis treats all historical knowledge as a project intricately bound to power, and the quest for believability. By re-examining history as a mobilising device in the context of empire and decolonisation, we can learn more about how historians function as part of a normative education system, and what happens when the norm is perverted, or questioned.


Location:
Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Examiner:
Prof. Laura Lee Downs
Prof Pierre-Philippe Fraiture (University of Warwick)
Prof Emmanuelle Loyer (SciencesPo, Paris)

Defendant:
Sharon Elisheva Turkington (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Contact:
Miriam Felicia Curci - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Stéphane Van Damme (EUI and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris)

Similar events

 

Page last updated on 18 August 2017