The French Discovery of Senegal: Premises for a Policy of Selective Assimilation


in Brokers of Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265208
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754180 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The French Discovery of Senegal: Premises for a Policy of Selective Assimilation

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter addresses French presence in Senegal, during the first colonisation, the so-called mercantile, and its future implications, notably at the beginning of the implementation of the French colonial system under Louis Faidherbe. For about two centuries before the appointment of the latter as governor in 1854, this country somewhat served as a lab of frenchness, a concept that goes beyond francophony to imply ‘a way of being and to think oneself as French’. However, with the previous integration of the country to the trans-Saharan world, it turned out to be some kind of synthesis of cultural features borrowed from both the Western and the Eastern civilizations and melted with the African cultural background. So it is not surprising that a country credited for being 95 percent Muslim celebrates all the Catholic holidays more so than France today.

Keywords: colonisation; trans-Saharan trade; Trans-Atlantic trade; frenchness; senegalisms; Islam; Christianity; signares; rootedness; openness

Chapter.  10438 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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