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Federal utopias and the realities of imperial power

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-406
JournalComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


King's Authors


Fred Cooper's Citizenship between Nation and Empire is a masterwork on the high politics of the end of the French empire in Africa. His elucidation of the attempts by some African political leaders to find a path out of colonial domination which lead through a global French federal sovereignty, rather than the nation state, is an important contribution. But was there really in practice 'the possibility of dismantling empire . . . without having to choose between French colonialism and national independence'? There are important reasons why the federal utopias of 1946 had no chance of ever being realized. Central to these was the imperial nation-state of France and the forms of French political, economic and racial privilege which would remain priorities during and after the moment of decolonization. The path which led to the nation-states of Africa after 1960 was already clear by the late 1940s.

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