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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2010

Columbia University


What was the indigénat? This article approaches this question via three arguments. First, a study of the indigénat (the regime of administrative sanctions applied to colonial subjects) challenges the idea that French West Africa formed part of an ‘empire of law’. Second, a dynamic spectrum of political statuses developed around the indigénat until its abolition in 1946. This spectrum is no less significant than one of its poles alone, that of colonial citizens. Third, the indigénat, its narrative of reform, and its relationship to law, bureaucracy, and authority illuminate the tensions between imperial rhetoric and colonial governance.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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1 Saada, E., ‘The empire of law: dignity, prestige, and domination in the “colonial situation”’, French Politics, Culture and Society, 20 (2002), 98120CrossRefGoogle Scholar; R. L. Roberts, Litigants and Households: African Disputes and Colonial Courts in the French Soudan, 1895–1912 (Portsmouth, NH, 2005). Note that Saada adopts an expansive definition of ‘law’ in Les Enfants de la colonie: les métis de l'empire français entre sujétion et citoyenneté (Paris, 2007), 13, note b.

2 Here one might affirm the claim of Aimé Césaire, that colonization was not ‘fundamentally … an attempt to extend the rule of law’: Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham (New York, 2000), 32. Two distinctions within the French empire must be recognized here: first, between colonies with legislative regimes and colonies, such as the Federation of French West Africa (the AOF), that were ruled by decree; second, between the ‘non-settler’ colonies such as the AOF and colonies in which laws predicated on race aimed to control interactions between individuals and populations of ‘native’ and ‘foreign’ (especially European or Asian) origin. On the first distinction, see R. Delavignette, ‘La Politique de Marius Moutet au Ministre des Colonies’, in P. Renouvin and R. Remond (eds.), Léon Blum: chef de gouvernement, 1936–37 (Paris, 1965), 390–4. On the second, see Saada, ‘Dignity’; Saada, Enfants, esp. ch. 4; A. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley, 2002); Merle, I., ‘Retour sur le régime de l'indigénat: genèse et contradictions des principes répressifs de l'empire français’, French Politics, Culture and Society, 20 (2002), 7797CrossRefGoogle Scholar, published in a slightly modified version as ‘De la “légalisation” de la violence en contexte colonial: le régime de l'indigénat en question’, Politix, 66 (2004), 137–62. On law, race, and settler colonies in sub-Saharan Africa, see notably M. Mamdani, ‘Beyond settler and native as political identities: overcoming the legacy of colonialism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43 (2001), 651–64; Lee, C., ‘The “native” undefined: colonial categories, Anglo-African status and the politics of kinship in British Central Africa, 1929–1938’, Journal of African History, 45 (2005), 455–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar; M. Crowder, The Flogging of Phinehas McIntosh: A Tale of Colonial Folly and Injustice, Bechuanaland 1933 (New Haven, 1988); D. Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (New York, 2005); C. Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (New York, 2005); and C. Elkins, ‘Race, citizenship, and governance: settler tyranny and the end of empire’, in S. Pederson and C. Elkins (eds.), Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, and Legacies (New York, 2005), 203–22.

3 See notably Diouf, M., ‘Assimilation coloniale et identités religieuses de la civilité des originaires des Quatre Communes (Sénégal)’, Canadian Journal of African Studies, 34 (1999), 565–87Google Scholar; Shereikis, R., ‘From law to custom: the shifting legal status of Muslim originaires in Kayes and Medine, 1903–1913’, Journal of African History, 42 (2001), 261–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Coquery-Vidrovitch, C., ‘Nationalité et citoyenneté en Afrique Occidentale Française: originaires et citoyens dans le Sénégal colonial’, Journal of African History, 42 (2001), 285–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar; G. Wilder, The French Imperial Nation-state: Negritude and Colonial Humanism Between the Two World Wars (Chicago, 2005); A. Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930 (Stanford, 1997); G. Wesley Johnson, The Emergence of Black Politics in Senegal: The Struggle for Power in the Four Communes, 1900–1920 (Stanford, 1971); M. Crowder, Senegal: A Study of French Assimilation Policy (rev. edn, London, 1967). See also E. Saada, ‘La République des indigènes’, in V. Duclert and C. Prochasson (eds.), Dictionnaire Critique de la République (Paris, 2002), 364–70. A. I. Asiwaju made a similar point, directing his argument against studies of assimilation and association: Asiwaju, ‘Control through coercion: a study of the indigénat regime in French West African administration, 1887–1946’, Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, séries B, 41 (1979), 40.

4 For a comparable argument regarding the tendency of American social science to write violence out of studies of independent Egypt, see T. Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-politics, Modernity (Berkeley, 2002), ch. 5.

5 As Roberts, Richard ably does in ‘Representation, structure and agency: divorce in the French Soudan during the early twentieth century’, Journal of African History, 40 (1999), 389410Google ScholarPubMed.

6 A. Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley, 2001).

7 G. Balandier, ‘La Situation coloniale: approche théorique’, Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie, 11 (1951), 44–79.

8 The phrase ‘régime d'exception’ appears in a 1918 circular on the synthesis of the various texts of the indigénat and it remained in use for decades: see S. Mbaye, Histoire des institutions coloniales françaises en Afrique de l'Ouest (1816–1960) (Dakar, 1991), 71–2; and, e.g., Gouverneur Général de l'Afrique Occidentale Française (hereafter GGAOF) de Coppet to Administrateur de la circonscription de Dakar, 25 Jan. 1937, no. 134 AP/2, Archives Nationales du Sénégal (hereafter ANS) 17G97. GGAOF Ponty had characterized the indigénat in much the same way in 1913: L. Manière, ‘Le Code de l'indigénat en Afrique occidentale française et son application: le cas du Dahomey (1887–1946)’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Université Paris-VII – Denis Diderot, 2007), 216.

9 On the development of colonial legal structures in the AOF, see Roberts, Litigants, chs. 2 and 3; Mbaye, Histoire, ch. 4; A. Baccard, ‘[La Justice:] En Afrique noire et à Djibouti’, in J. Clauzel (ed.), La France d'Outre-Mer (1930–1960): témoignages d'administrateurs et de magistrats (Paris, 2003), 649–72.

10 The severity of sanctions changed over time. One might take as a kind of benchmark the version of the indigénat decreed on 15 November 1924. Depending on the administrative district, it allowed for fines of up to 15 or 100 Frs, imprisonment for up to 5 or 15 days, and bondage in case of non-payment of fines for up to 15 days, depending on the amount of the fine. Under the terms of the same decree, governors could intern individuals, seize their goods, and either assign them to a place of residence or forbid them from visiting a given place for up to ten years. See GGAOF, Textes réorganisant l'indigénat en AOF (Gorée, 1926).

11 On Brazzaville, see J. R. de Benoist, L'Afrique occidental française de 1944 à 1960 (Dakar, 1982), 26. Guèye would continue to push for reform of ‘native justice’ in the months after Brazzaville: see GGAOF to Procureur Général du Service Judiciare, 1 March 1944, no. 486 AP/1. Abolition occurred first via a series of texts issued under the provisional government, before the establishment of the Fourth Republic: Minister of Colonies to GGAOF, 6 Aug. 1945, no. 10476 AP; Ch. De Gaulle, Decree 46-D137 (illeg.) of 22 Dec. 45, printed in Journal Officiel de la République Française, 26 Dec. 1945, promulgated in the AOF on 29 Dec. 1945, printed in Journal Officiel de l'AOF, 5 Jan. 1946, (vol. 42, no. 2201); and Telegram, M. Moutet, Minister of Colonies to GGAOF, 28 Feb. 1946, no. 215/CIRC AP/1; Telegram, Haut Commissaire de l'AOF Cournarie to Governors, AOF, and to the Circonscription of Dakar, 8 March 1946; all from ANS 17G168. Abolition was secured by the law of 7 May 1946, known as the ‘Loi Lamine Guèye’. The indigénat had been very significantly reformed in Algeria in 1927, when justices of the peace began to hear charges brought under it. Some refer to this as its abolition in Algeria, while others insist that it existed in this diminished form until 1944: Saada, ‘République’, 368; Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’, 142, n. 14. Asiwaju over-reaches the evidence in attributing the demise of the indigénat in West Africa to local resistance, especially violence and emigration: ‘Control’, 69–70. I would argue that it was abolished not because it was ineffective but because it quite effectively underpinned a certain kind of empire, one that African and (loosely speaking) Leftist political maneuvering, including the designs of Maurius Moutet, the Minister of Colonies (1936–37, 1946–47), rendered impracticable. By the same token, its abolition represented not a step towards eventual independence but rather greater incorporation into a rapidly and profoundly changing republican political system. On these points, see generally H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, 1994; 1st edition 1948), esp. ch. 8; more specifically, see F. Cooper, Colonialism in Question (Berkeley, 2005), ch. 7.

12 Interview with Bakari Kamian, Bamako, 11 July 2002.

13 Accounts of the tragedy can be found in ANS 15G38v17, Archives Nationales du Mali (hereafter ANM) 2D105FR, and ANM 2D27FR. This appears to have been a technique repeated elsewhere, sometimes with the addition of hot peppers thrown on coals in a confined space to create a noxious and suffocating gas. For similar examples, see H. Brunschwig, Noirs et Blancs dans l'Afrique noire française, ou comment le colonisé devient le colonisateur (Paris, 1983), 143; M. Saul and P. Royer, West African Challenge to Empire: Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War (Athens, OH, 2001), 100; and A. H. Bâ, Oui, Mon Commandant! Mémoires II (Arles, 1994), 174–9.

14 Registre d'écrous, San, 1932, ANM 2M309FR, dossier 17. Note that this man was not charged with failing to pay his taxes but simply failing to do so with good will.

15 From a vast literature, see Spear, T., ‘Neo-traditionalism and the limits of invention in British colonial Africa’, Journal of African History, 44 (2003), 328CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 13–16; Shadle, B., ‘“Changing traditions to meet current altering conditions”: customary law, African courts, and the rejection of codification in Kenya, 1930–1960’, Journal of African History, 40 (1999), 411–31Google Scholar; K. Mann and R. L. Roberts (eds.), Law in Colonial Africa (Portsmouth, NH, 1991).

16 R. L. Buell, The Native Problem in Africa (2 vols., New York, 1928), I, 1016.

17 Whether or not the indigénat protected the authority of chiefs was a matter of some confusion among high-ranking administrators in the mid 1930s. Although Dakar insisted that it did indeed, the Governor of Guinée voided several individual sanctions on the grounds that it did not, and in one case went so far as to argue that the indigénat could only be invoked to sanction offenses against ‘European agents of authority’. Dakar rejected this interpretation. See Commission Permanente du Conseil d'Administration, Guinée Française, 16 Feb. 1935, no. 42 API; GGAOF, Circular, 1 July 1935, no. 265; GGOAF to Gouverneur du Guinée Française, 27 April 1936, no. 214; and Directeur des Affaires Politiques et Administratives (hereafter DAPA), note for GGAOF, 30 April 1936, no. 472 AP/2; all from ANS 17G84.

18 Although the indigénat was not technically a code, it is often described as such, and I have retained the term for felicity of usage and to diminish repetition. Colonial jurists often distinguished it from a code by referring to it as a ‘régime’: Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’, 142. On the irregular practices of colonial judgment and punishment that existed before the indigénat was elaborated in the AOF, see Roberts, Litigants, esp. 60–1. On codification, see also Wilder, French Imperial Nation-state, 106–11; J.-H. Jézéquel, ‘“Collecting customary law”: educated Africans, ethnographic writings, and colonial justice in French West Africa’, in B. Lawrance, E. Osborn, and R. L. Roberts (eds.), Intermediaries, Interpreters, and Clerks: African Employees in the Making of Colonial Africa (Madison, 2006); and, e.g., Comité d'Études Historiques et Scientifiques de l'AOF, Coutumiers juridiques de l'AOF, tome 1: Senegal; tome 2: Soudan Français (Paris, 1939).

19 M. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, 1996), 126–7.

20 Saada, ‘République’, 368.

21 On the latter sense of indigène and indigénat, see Mbembe, Postcolony.

22 Buell, Native Problem, I, 1018.

23 Saada, ‘Empire’, 101. Likewise, although the versions current in French West and Equatorial Africa (AEF) included among their articles one forbidding burial of human remains except in official cemeteries, Florence Bernault argues persuasively that what was at stake in the AEF was not ‘prestige’ but a struggle over the representation of power through the control of bodies and body parts: Bernault, F., ‘Body, power and sacrifice in Equatorial Africa’, Journal of African History, 47 (2006), 207–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 231, n. 78.

24 R. Delavignette, Freedom and Authority in French West Africa (London, 1950; 1st edition 1946).

25 The inspectors of administrative affairs played an important role in this struggle and provide key sources for Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’.

26 Compare Foucault's argument on punishment and reform: M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York, 1977; 1st edition 1975), esp. 82. Thus the significance of the phrase ‘régime d'exception’ (see n. 8 above).

27 See Arendt, Origins, 243–5; Wilder, French Imperial Nation-state; Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’, esp. 139–40. See also Anderson, Histories.

28 Roberts, Litigants.

29 Mamdani, ‘Beyond settler and native’.

30 Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’; Saada, ‘Empire’.

31 Roberts, Litigants; Mann and Roberts, Law; Wilder, French Imperial Nation-state.

32 See L. Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (Cambridge, 2001); Roberts, Litigants.

33 Wilder approaches this problem in his discussion of law and political rationality, but leaves the indigénat aside: French Imperial Nation-state, chs. 3 and 4.

34 In addition to Merle, ‘Retour’ and ‘De la “légalisation”’, see Manière, ‘Code’; O. Guèye, ‘Droits de l'homme et pratique historique: le code de l'indigénat’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, 1995–96).

35 See, e.g., J. P. Dozon, Frères et sujets: la France et l'Afrique en perspective (Paris, 2003), 135–44.

36 Asiwaju, ‘Control’, 53.

37 DAPA to Directeur des Services Economiques, GGAOF, Dakar, 20 Feb. 1942, no. 430 AP/1, ANS 17G168. The indigénat itself, of course, remained in effect.

38 The first element of this argument draws on Arendt, Origins. It intersects with that of Merle, who argues that ‘the French state’ (or the Ministry of Colonies) sought to use the indigénat to ‘frame’ or calibrate the exercise of violence by civilian or military officers as much as to subjugate the Kanaks in the wake of conquest: ‘Retour’, 85, 91; ‘De la “légalisation”’, 150. In comparison, Saada argues that their desire to defend colonial ‘dignity’ and ‘prestige’ led imperial officials to discourage the use of force and to invest great energy in policing and maintaining control over Indochina's Europeans: ‘Empire’, 105, 115; Enfants, 72.

39 Cf. C. Young, who uses the metaphor of a shroud: The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (New Haven, 1994), 154.

40 For a defense of the latter practice, see Delavignette, Freedom. Delavignette trained a generation of colonial administrators in his post as director of the Ecole Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer in the 1930s and '40s.

41 The case of the recalcitrant taxpayer cited above is an exception, present in the archives because, almost certainly owing to a beating he received, he died in jail. Mitchell argues that such a relative absence of records is central to what he terms a ‘culture of fear’ in the Egyptian countryside of the 1960s and 1970s: Mitchell, Rule, ch. 5.

42 Brunschwig, Noirs; R. Colin, Kènèdougou au crépescule de l'Afrique occidentale: mémoires des années cinquante (Paris, 2004), 200–4.

43 S. N. Konaté, ‘Les chefs de canton et les gardes de cercle dans le système administratif français au Soudan, 1900–1945’ (unpublished MA dissertation, Ecole Normale Superièure (Bamako), 1983). The son of a former garde, Konaté based his dissertation on interviews conducted in southern Mali.

44 Inspecteur des Affaires Administratives, M. Laine, Rapport no. 43/AA, 25 June 1944, ANM 2D39FR.

45 In criminal courts, they could impose the death penalty, subject to review by the Governor.

46 Quoted in Young, African Colonial State, 155; see also W. Cohen, Rulers of Empire: The French Colonial Service in Africa (Stanford, 1971), 120.

47 Delavignette, Freedom, 42–8. See also F. Simonis, Le Commandant en tournée: une administration au contact des populations en Afrique noire coloniale (Paris, 2005).

48 Such rhetoric appeared as early as 1912: Manière, ‘Code’, 209.

49 Fraternité rejected that rhetorical sleight of hand: see ‘Supprimons la justice indigène’, article in l'AOF, 8 March 1946, reprinted from Fraternité, 30 Jan. 1946, ANS 17G168. Manière adopts the metaphor of conquest, as well as finding it in his sources: see ‘Code’, 17, 82, 91, 292.

50 Rapport de tournées du mois de Jan 1943, n.d. (Jan. 1943), no. 1, ANM 1E143FR. Gauthier was also a particularly unpopular commandant among the population of the cercle: interview with Bakari Kamian.

51 Commandant Gauthier, Rapport de tournées du mois de Mai 1943, 30 May 1943, no. 2, and agricultural agent Chollier, Rapport Agricole Mai 1943, 1 June 1943, ANM 1E143FR. On administrative tours and the indigénat under Vichy, see R. Ginio, French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa (Lincoln, NE, 2006), 28–30.

52 On administrators' fascination with both the automobile and roads, see Alber, E., ‘Motorization and colonial rule: two scandals in Dahomey, 1916’, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 15 (2002), 7992CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Delavignette was more ambivalent about the effects of the automobile on colonial government: Freedom, 42–3. On forced labor and road-building, see B. Fall, Le Travail forcé en Afrique Occidentale Française (1900–1946) (Paris, 1993), ch. 6; see also B. Djibo, ‘Silence! On décolonise…’: itinéraire politique et syndical d'un militant africain (Paris, 1992), 22–3.

53 Cohen, Rulers, 68; Buell, Native Problem, I, 1016.

54 On the distinction between the colony and colonial society, see Delavignette, Freedom, ch. 2.

55 Merle, ‘Retour’; see also Cohen, Rulers, 68; Saada, ‘Empire’.

56 Buell, Native Problem, I, 1016–17.

57 Bureau Politique, Soudan Français, observations on ‘Tribunal du premier degree: notice des jugements rendus en matière repressive pendant la mois d'aoÛt 1934’, ANM 2M239FR. See also GGAOF, Textes, 7.

58 Bamako, ‘Tribunal du premier degré, audience publique du 24 Oct. 1939’, ANM 2N62FR; see also Cercle of Kita, ‘Extrait du registre d’écrou concernant six détenus susceptibles d'être transférés à la Prison de Kidal', 1 June 1938, ANM 1F242FR.

59 San, ‘Punitions disciplinaires’, 1941 and 1943, ANM 2M170FR.

60 DAPA, F. Rougier, ‘Note sur l'indigénat en AOF’, 5 Nov. 1936, unnumbered, ANS 17G84; see also Asiwaju, ‘Control’, 60–1.

61 San, ‘Punitions Disciplinaires’, 1941–44, ANM 2M170FR.

62 Merle, ‘Retour’, esp. 85.

63 ‘Peines disciplinaires’, 2nd trimester, 1921, ANM 2M239FR.

64 ‘Rapport du Tournée, Tioutiou et Mandiakuy’, 4–10 Dec. 1942, ANM 1E38FR.

65 San, ‘Peines disciplinaires’, 1943, ANM 2M170FR.

66 San, ‘Punitions disciplinaires’, 1941–44.

67 In 1941, seven people paid 45 Frs a piece for that offense: San, ‘Punitions disciplinaires’, 1942, ANM 2M170FR. On the deep connection between cotton cultivation and state power, see R. L. Roberts, ‘The coercion of free markets: cotton, peasants, and the colonial state in the French Soudan, 1924–1932’, in A. Isaacman and R. L. Roberts (eds.), Cotton, Colonialism, and Social History in Sub-Saharan Africa (Portsmouth, NH, 1995), esp. 227.

68 On colonial difference, see P. Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, 1993), 10, 16–24. On British anxiety over maintaining distinctions within regimes of coercion, see Steven Pierce, ‘Punishment and the political body: flogging and colonialism in northern Nigeria’, Interventions, 3 (2001), 206–21; and Crowder, Flogging.

69 On Dahomey, see Buell, Native Problem, I, 1017, citing Les Continents, ‘Quelques révendications dahoméennes’, I, 8 (1 Sept. 1924). See also DAPA, ‘Note pour M. le GGAOF, re. voeux emprimés par les populations du Dahomey à la mission parlementaire’, 28 Dec. 1937, no. 3106/AP/1, ANS 17G97; and Manière, ‘Code’.

70 Minister of Colonies, ministerial circular, 20 Nov. 1924, no. 386, quoted in Buell, Native Problem, I, 1018.

71 DAPA, GGAOF, Circular to Lieutenant Governors [and to the administrator of the] Circonscription of Dakar, 15 Feb. 1935, no. 45 AP/2, ANS 17G168.

72 Rougier, ‘Note sur l'indigénat’.

73 G. Mann, Native Sons: West African Veterans and France in the Twentieth Century (Durham, NC, 2006), 70–2.

74 M. Merlin, GGAOF to Minister of Colonies, n.d., unnumbered (draft); Procureur Général AOF to GGAOF, 24 April 1920, unnumbered; GGAOF, Circular, 22 May 1920, no. 49; all from ANS 11D3/0039.

75 Commandant de Cercle (CdC) Koutiala, ‘Rapport Politique, 4’ trim., 1921', ANM IE23FR.

76 Asiwaju, ‘Control’, 53; see also Buell, Native Problem, I, 1017.

77 Far from being abolished, the indigénat regime was extended to the mandated territory of Cameroun in 1924. It had been instituted in Togo in 1917: Buell, Native Problem, II, 314, 379–92.

78 It is remarkable that such a major reform has garnered so very little attention from historians. Brief mentions of this reform offer conflicting dates: 1924 in Conklin, Mission, 310–11; cf. Buell, Native Problem, I, 1017; 1934 in Cohen, Rulers, 119; or, in some archival documents, 1935, e.g., DAPA, HCAOF, 3 May 1941, no. 1197/AP/2, ANS 17G97. For correct dates, see GGAOF to Minister of Colonies, 18 Dec. 1936, no. 1929, ANS 17G97; Rougier, ‘Note sur l'indigénat’; GGAOF, T. L. Circular to Governors, 10 Nov. 1942, no. 998, ANS 17G168. See also Manière, ‘Code’, 371. On women in the AOF in this period, see G. Lydon, ‘Women, children and the Popular Front's mission of inquiry in French West Africa’, in T. Chafer and A. Sackur (eds.), French Colonial Empire and the Popular Front (New York, 1999), 170–87; Lydon, G.The unraveling of a neglected source: a report on women in francophone Africa in the 1930s’, Cahiers d'Études Africaines, 37 (1997), 555–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Rodet, M., ‘Genre, coutume, et droit colonial au Soudan Français (1918–1939)’, Cahiers d'Études Africaines, 47 (2007), 583602CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

79 GGAOF to Minister of Colonies, 18 Dec. 1936. Note that a decree of 12 May 1934 had exempted women in most, but not all, of the federation from the sanctions of the indigénat.

80 DAPA, HCAOF, 3 May 1941.

81 DAPA, ‘[Rapport] en Commission Permanente du Conseil de Gouvernement’, n.d. (document stamped 2 Nov. 1942), unnumbered, ANS 17G168; GGAOF, T. L. Circulaire to Governors, 10 Nov. 1942.

82 See ‘Extrait du Rapport d'Inspection Coste du 1 février 1938’, ANS 17G97.

83 Administrateur en Chef des Colonies, Administrateur de la Circonscription de Dakar et Dépendances to GGAOF, DAPA, 14 Jan. 1937, no. 107 AG, ANS 17G97.

84 Governor-General Brevié, ‘Les missions chrétiennes et la société indigène’, circular, 6 Feb. 1933, no. 37 AP/2, ANS 17G73v17.

85 Coquery-Vidrovitch, ‘Nationalité’.

86 DAPA, Conseil de Gouvernement to GGAOF, 25 Nov. 1938, ANS 17G168.

87 Rougier, ‘Note sur l'indigénat’.

88 CdC San, ‘Etat nominatif des indigènes du cercle proposés en vue de bénéficier des dispositions de l'article 5 du décret du 15 Novembre 1924 sur l'indigénat’, n.d. (1936), ANM 2M170FR. Governor, Soudan Français (GSF) to GGAOF, DAPA, 29 Sept. 1936, no. 2078AP, ANS 17G79. On the Volta-Bani war, see Saul and Royer, West African Challenge.

89 See also Shereikis, ‘Law’.

90 Foucault, Discipline.

91 Manière counted 94 texts regulating the indigénat in Dahomey from 1887 to 1946; these included 15 decrees, 27 administrative orders, and 40 circulars for the AOF, in addition to those particular to Dahomey: Manière, ‘Code’, 13, n. 19. To these must be added an enormous volume of correspondence between various levels of the administration seeking greater precision on the practice and theory of the indigénat.

92 Exempt from the reforms were the colonies of Haute-Volta, Mauritania, and Niger, most of the Soudan, Guinea, and Dahomey, and all but ten cercles of the Côte d'Ivoire. In other words, Senegal was the only colony to experience reform across the entirety of the territory. See Buell, Native Problem, I, 1019, n. 60.

93 F. H. Troupeau, CdC San to Lieutenant-Governor, Soudan Française, 14 March 1937, no. 107, Response to note no. 69/AP, 27 Jan. 1937 and circular of GGAOF, no. 777 AP/2, ANM 2M170FR.

94 F. Rougier, GSF, ‘Circulaire’, 17 June 1937, no. 1288 AP, ANM 1E002FR. Other sources state that support for the indigénat was unanimous, meaning that it was widespread indeed: see Cohen, Rulers, 119–20.

95 M. Brot, ‘Did the Popular Front have any significant impact in Guinée?’, in Chafer and Sackur, French Colonial Empire, 188–202.

96 ANM 2M106FR. Note that available figures represent the number of people held at the end of each year, and not the total number of people incarcerated over its course.

97 Cercle of Sikasso, ‘Rapport annuel sur la justice indigène, année 1941’, ANM 2M170FR; F. Bernault, ‘The politics of enclosure in colonial and post-colonial Africa’, in F. Bernault (ed.), A History of Prison and Confinement in Africa (Portsmouth, NH, 2003), 19–20.

98 ‘Les anciens combattants noirs d'AOF manifestent leur attachement à la France’, Journal de Rouen, 1 May 1939, Centre des Archives d'Outre-Mer (Aix-en-Provence, France), Agence de la France d'Outre-Mer (Agefom), 389 13/b.

99 R. Cazenave, CdC San, ‘Rapport annuel sur la fonctionnement de la justice indigène, 1939’, 29 Jan. 1940, ANM 2M106FR. See also his ‘Rapport annuel’ for 1940, 31 Dec. 1940, ANM 2M106FR; Mann, Native Sons, 111–16.

100 R. Cazenave, CdC San, ‘Rapport annuel sur la fonctionnement de la justice indigène, 1941’, 16 Jan. 1942, ANM 2M106FR.

101 By 1951, these would include civil servants, religious leaders, those literate in French or Arabic, members of the Chambers of Commerce, and mothers of two children: V. Thompson and R. Adloff, French West Africa (Stanford, 1957), 58.

102 De Benoist, L'Afrique, 52–3.

103 Adjoint Mader, ‘Rapport de tournée’, 21 Oct. 1946, ANM 1E38FR. On texts abolishing the indigénat, see n. 11 above. A law of 11 April 1946, known as the ‘Loi Houphouët-Boigny’, abolished forced labor. On its political impact, see F. Cooper, ‘Conditions analogous to slavery: imperialism and free labor ideology in Africa’, in F. Cooper, T. Holt, and R. Scott, Beyond Slavery: Explorations Of Race, Labor, and Citizenship in Postemancipation Societies (Chapel Hill, NC, 2000). On the context of Mader's tour, see Mann, Native Sons, 119–21.

104 ‘Rapports de tournée du Gouverneur Louveau, Tournée Sud et sud-est, Nov. 1948’, ANM 1E94FR. This particular speech was actually delivered in Dioila on 20 February 1948. The text is presented as being ‘the literal translation from the shorthand’.

105 See for example, Mader, ‘Rapport de tournée’; CdC San, ‘Rapport sur la justice, année 1947’, 28 Feb. 1948, ANM 2M106FR; Mann, G., ‘Fetishizing religion: Allah Koura and French “Islamic policy” in late colonial French Soudan’, Journal of African History, 44 (2003), 263–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

106 On labor, see Fall, Travail forcé, 279–90.

107 Interview with Gaoussou ‘RDA’ Konaté, San, 24 March 1999; ‘Rapport de tournée du Gouverneur [Louveau] du 19 au 25 février 1947’, and ‘Rapport de tournée du Gouverneur [Louveau] juillet 1948’, ANM 1E094FR.

108 Interview with Bakari Kamian; interview with Moussa Doumbia, San, 27 July 2002.

109 Rocca Serra, ‘Rapport sur la justice’.

110 E.g., Cercle of Sikasso, ‘Rapport annuel sur la justice indigène’.

111 Interviews with Amadou Théra, San, 2 July 1998 and 1 Aug. 1998. Théra himself became a commandant in post-colonial Mali; the very term ‘commandant’ remained in official use in Mali until quite recently, when ‘prefet’ (‘prefect’) replaced it.

112 Here my interpretation differs from those of Saada, ‘Empire’; Wilder, French Imperial Nation-state; and Manière, ‘Code’. Drawing on Foucault's Discipline, rather than on his work on governmentality, Merle and Manière argue that the indigénat engendered a particularly Foucaultian form of power in the French colonies: Merle, ‘De la “légalisation”’; Manière, ‘Code’. I find this argument difficult to accept: the indigénat was not so subtle a regime as to inculcate an internalized discipline or to serve as an instrument of ‘micropower’. On governmentality, see M. Foucault, ‘Governmentality’, in G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Miller (eds.), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality (Chicago, 1991), 87–104.

113 Here Mamdani (Citizen) and Mbembe (Postcolony, ch. 1, esp. 25, 31–2) agree.

114 Mbembe, Postcolony, ch. 3; see also I. Ly, Toiles d'araignées (roman) (Paris, 1982).

115 Manière, ‘Code’, 432.

116 See Dao Rokiatou Coulibaly, Amnistie et grâce amnistiante: recueil de textes de la République du Mali de la justice indigène à nos jours (Bamako, 1996); Mamdani, Citizen.

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