The Journal of African History

Taming the City: Urban Planning and Population Control

RETHINKING POLITICS IN THE COLONY: THE MÉTIS OF SENEGAL AND URBAN POLITICS IN THE LATE NINETEENTH AND EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY  *

HILARY JONES 

University of Maryland

ABSTRACT

Senegal was unique in French West Africa for the nature and extent of electoral institutions that operated in its colonial towns. In the 1870s, Third Republic France elaborated on earlier short-lived policies by re-establishing local assemblies and a legislative seat for Senegal in Paris. Although histories of modern politics focus on Blaise Diagne's 1914 election to the French National Assembly, a local assembly called the General Council held greater power over economic and political matters affecting the colony between 1870 and 1920. This article reconsiders the history of urban politics in colonial Senegal by examining the ways that the métis (mixed race population) used the General Council as their field of engagement with French officials, sometimes facilitating the consolidation of French rule but at other times contesting colonial practice.

KEY WORDS

  • Senegal;
  • colonial;
  • race;
  • urban;
  • politics

Correspondence:

Author's email: hjones@umd.edu

Footnotes

*  I am grateful to the journal's anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions.