Elizabeth Foster

Faith in Empire

Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940

Stanford University Press 2013

New Books in African StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 26, 2013 Roxanne Panchasi

How did French colonial administrators, missionaries, and different groups of Africans interact with one another in colonial Senegal? In her new book, Faith in...

How did French colonial administrators, missionaries, and different groups of Africans interact with one another in colonial Senegal? In her new book, Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940 (Stanford University Press, 2013), historian Elizabeth Foster draws on a wealth of archival material to reveal the interests and negotiations of key powerbrokers in the colony from the end of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth. Emphasizing the heterogeneity of French rule and the significance of local agency in its various forms, Foster interrogates the relationship between metropole and colony while exploring a religious landscape in Senegal that included French, African, and metis Catholics; Muslims; and animists.

The book’s chapters explore a variety of fascinating themes and events, from a scandal involving a nun accused of becoming pregnant in 1886, to the trial of an African accused of murdering a Wolof agent of the French empire, to the impact of the First World War and the Popular Front in colonial Senegal. Rethinking French republicanism, laicite, and assimilation in their colonial manifestations during the Third Republic, Faith in Empire has much to offer readers interested in debates about the imperial past and its legacies; historical and contemporary struggles over secularism; and the complicated relationship between religion and politics in France.

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