PREFACE

During the time of the colonies we were given the rose-coloured view. Of course the colonist worked hard. Persecuted in his own country before setting forth, he had gone to settle down in a place to which he had been led by the Almighty. There he intended to cultivate the land, to grow and blossom, and there to multiply. However, to this end “he had to defend himself against aggressors, rebels and other such swine”. How great was his glory! How meritorious it was to suffer in order to be a conqueror!

Today the tune has changed. A guilty conscience has taken over. Anti-colonialism, once confined to the extreme left in France and to old-fashioned liberals across the Channel, has become universal. There are very few false notes. History is called upon to judge, in turn, the terrible misdeeds of the slave trade, the tragic toll of forced labour and God knows what else besides! Drawing up a final balance sheet for the French, Dutch, or British presence, one cannot find a single orange that was not defiled, a single apple that was not rotten.

Thus, with unsurpassed intransigence and as the final prerogative of pride, the European historical memory has retained for itself one last privilege: that of painting its own misdeeds in dark colours and evaluating them on its own terms.

However this audacity raises some questions. For instance, when the anti-colonialist tradition claims that no rickshaw was shown at the Exhibition of 1931 “thanks to” the action of the League of the Rights of Man, one wonders. A few years earlier, at the Marseilles Fair, had not the Annamese vowed not to play the role of coolies and that, if forced to do so, they would set fire to the Exhibition Park?

In short these Annamese, these Blacks, these Arabs, played their part as well. It is advisable to let them have their say, for, if they remember the infamous crimes already mentioned, they also recall with gratitude their school teachers and their physicians, malaria and the White Fathers. For this too was colonization. Likewise the struggle for independence was not merely a “decolonization”.

The histories of colonization have traditionally been told from the

-vii-

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Colonization: A Global History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Colonization or Imperialism 1
  • 2 - The Initiatives 24
  • 3 - Conflicts for an Empire 52
  • 4 - A New Race of Societies 104
  • 5 - Rose-Coloured Legend and Pitch-Black Legend 163
  • 6 - The Vision of the Vanquished 186
  • 7 - The Movements for Colonist-Independence 211
  • 8 - Leaven and Levers 239
  • 9 - Independence or Revolution 262
  • 10 - Liberation or Decolonization 305
  • 11 - Decolonization Halted 344
  • Chronology 361
  • Filmographic Selection 370
  • Bibliography 376
  • Index 390
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