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Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa
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Book description

Martin Klein's book is a history of slaves during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in three former French colonies. It investigates the changing nature of local slavery over time, and the evolving French attitudes towards it, through the phases of trade, conquest and colonial rule. The heart of the study focuses on the period between 1876 and 1922, when a French army composed largely of slave soldiers took massive numbers of slaves in the interior, while in areas near the coast, hesitant actions were taken against slave-raiding, trading and use. After 1900, the French withdrew state support of slavery, and as many as a million slaves left their masters. A second exodus occurred after World War I, when soldiers of slave origin returned home. The renegotiation of relationships between those who remained and their masters carries the story into the contemporary world.

Reviews

‘Martin A. Klein tells the story admirably; his research is based not only on the extensive use of archival and secondary materials, but also on interviews with the descendants of slaves and masters, whose memories of the past tend to be much harsher than the impressions of contemporary colonial observers.’

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

‘Klein’s sensitive reading of this makes the book valuable to students of contemporary African society as well as historians of slavery, West Africa and French colonialism … a convincingly argued and important book.’

Source: English Historical Review

‘… a profound, comprehensive, facts rich overview, based on several years of research by the author in African and European archives, collecting of oral records and reports by missionaries … Martin Klein brought to the reader a book which helps in understanding not only of African slavery itself, but due to its persistence in the minds of many former slaves even long after is abolition, in understanding a lot about the African present as well.’

Source: Asian and African Studies

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