Assimilation and Association in French Colonial Theory, 1890-1914

By Raymond F. Betts | Go to book overview

Raymond F. Betts


PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

The attention still given to this study, written more than forty years ago, attests to the continuing concern with the historical significance of modern imperialism in which the French colonial empire played a part second only to the British. Yet the term empire only gained in popularity in France after World War I, most notably on the occasion of the International Colonial Exposition of 1931, when buildings representing the various possessions were gathered together in the Bois de Vincennes. In fact, scattered around the globe, the French colonial possessions never cohered in any effective administrative or political way and were declared by one disheartened Frenchman to be a collection of petits paquets, small packages.

Nor did colonial policy fare any better. Assimilation and Association in French Colonial Theory, 1890–1914 covers the years in which the major acquisition of territory was complete and the prevailing issue was one of governance. While more than twice the number of people who lived in France were found in these overseas possessions, “native policy,” as it was then called, became a matter of great concern to the proponents of empire. But it never reached the level of great national concern. Only when the annual budget was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies or when a crisis like that over Fashoda in 1898 occurred

-vii-

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