France experienced a period of crisis following World War I when the relationship between the nation and its colonies became a subject of public debate. The French Imperial Nation-State focuses on two intersecting movements that redefined imperial politics—colonial humanism led by administrative reformers in West Africa and the Paris-based Negritude project, comprising African and Caribbean elites.
Gary Wilder develops a sophisticated account of the contradictory character of colonial government and examines the cultural nationalism of Negritude as a multifaceted movement rooted in an alternative black public sphere. He argues that interwar France must be understood as an imperial nation-state—an integrated sociopolitical system that linked a parliamentary republic to an administrative empire. An interdisciplinary study of colonial modernity combining French history, colonial studies, and social theory, The French Imperial Nation-State will compel readers to revise conventional assumptions about the distinctions between republicanism and racism, metropolitan and colonial societies, and national and transnational processes.
"Wilder has fashioned an argument that ''empricist historians'' will not find easy to dismantle, and this complex book deserves their engagement."-Owen White, Journal of Colonialsm and Colonial History