Assimilation and Association in French Colonial Theory, 1890-1914

By Raymond F. Betts | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
IDEAS FROM ABROAD

THE rapid growth of imperialism in the last decades of the nineteenth century could not help but arouse an interest in comparative colonial studies.1 France witnessed the publication of a number of books devoted to the colonial practices of the European powers, several of which were written by theorists who turned their attention to those colonial nations whose methods and experience appeared valuable. The vastness and newness of the second French colonial empire were awesome, while memories of the first colonial empire usually served for little except to remind the imperialists that a similar fate should not await the newly acquired overseas regions. French colonial experience of a contemporary nature, particularly in tropical regions already populated, was lacking. Largely as a result, an intense if limited interest in studies of comparative colonization developed. It was one which was to have a definite influence on the French colonial theory of the period.

The need for this effort was perhaps first clearly signaled by Paul Leroy-Beaulieu in his De la colonisation chez les peuples modernes. This imposing book, one of the classic studies of modern colonization, was first published in 1874

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