The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa

By Hilary Jones | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1. Guillabert was elected mayor of Louga and Saint Louis. Henri Louis Valantin was ambassador to London, and Pierre Devès was appointed ambassador to the Vatican. Members of the Crespin family served in Senegal’s judiciary. Alfred d’Erneville became a decorated officer in the armed forces. The bulletin of the Catholic Church in Saint Louis reported on the achievements of members of their congregation and also reproduced key milestones for the community from the Church newsletter that circulated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “Pages d’Histoire” and “Actualité,” Unir: L’Echo de Saint Louis 10 (June 1969), 5–7.

2. O’Brien made these observations in her sociological study of European society in Senegal based on fieldwork conducted in the 1960s. Rita Cruise O’Brien, White Society in Black Africa: The French of Senegal (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1972).

3. Abdoulaye Sadji, Nini: Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1957; reprint, Paris: Présence Africaine, 1988). Historian H. Oludare Idowu confirms that tensions existed between the Senegalese and the métis over the latter’s role in politics. In 1963 and 1965, he interviewed descendants of the métis and Senegalese in the towns who reported the use of racial expressions to condemn the métis during contentious political campaigns such as the elections of 1914. My interviews revealed less animosity perhaps because almost fifty years had passed since independence, giving rise to new political and economic realities where the métis no longer exercised political power. H. O. Idowu, “Café au Lait: Senegal’s Mulatto Community in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 6 (December 1972): 271. For the concept of métissage in Senegalese literature, see Daouda Loum, “Métis et métissages: L’Eclairage littéraire en miroir,” French Colonial History 9 (2008): 79–102.

4. Spitzer compares the psychology of a Krio family of Freetown, a mulatto family of Brazil, and a Jewish family in Austria to illustrate the social and moral dilemmas for such groups in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Leo Spitzer, Lives in Between: The Experience of Marginality in a Century of Emancipation (New York: Hill and Wang, 1999).

5. Ferdinand Brigaud, interview with author, 4 December 2000, Saint Louis.

6. Brooks’s seminal contribution focuses on the role of signares as entrepreneurs rather than only as the sexual companions of European men. George E. Brooks, EurAfricans in Western Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003). For a treatment of the material world created by signares and their descendants in this era, see Peter Mark,

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