Assimilation and Empire: Uniformity in French and British Colonies, 1541-1954

Hardcover | March 14, 2013

bySaliha Belmessous

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Assimilation was an ideology central to European expansion and colonisation, an ideology which legitimised colonisation for centuries. Assimilation and Empire shows that the aspiration for assimilation was not only driven by materialistic reasons, but was also motivated by ideas. The engine ofassimilation was found in the combination of two powerful ideas: the European philosophical conception of human perfectibility and the idea of the modern state. Europeans wanted to create, in their empires, political and cultural forms they valued and wanted to realise in their own societies, butwhich did not yet exist.Saliha Belmessous examines three imperial experiments - seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New France, nineteenth-century British Australia, and nineteenth and twentieth-century French Algeria - and reveals the complex inter-relationship between policies of assimilation, which were driven by adesire for perfection and universality, and the greatest challenge to those policies, discourses of race, which were based upon perceptions of difference.Neither colonised nor European peoples themselves were able to conform to the ideals given as the object of assimilation. Yet, the deep links between assimilation and empire remained because at no point since the sixteenth century has the utopian project of perfection - articulated through theprogressive theory of history - been placed seriously in question. The failure of assimilation pursued through empire, for both colonised and coloniser, reveals the futility of the historical pursuit of perfection.

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Assimilation was an ideology central to European expansion and colonisation, an ideology which legitimised colonisation for centuries. Assimilation and Empire shows that the aspiration for assimilation was not only driven by materialistic reasons, but was also motivated by ideas. The engine ofassimilation was found in the combination o...

Saliha Belmessous is a Senior Research Fellow in history at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She studied in France and Canada and has held research positions in the USA and Australia.

other books by Saliha Belmessous

Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.1 inPublished:March 14, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199579164

ISBN - 13:9780199579167

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Assimilation in early-modern French America: from francisation to racialism1. French colonial justifications2. Francisation as New France's founding project3. Defining French distinctiveness in seventeenth-century France4. Implementing francisation5. The emergence of race in French political imagination6. ConclusionPart II: Assimilation in the nineteenth-century British empire: the rule of law as an engine of civilisation1. British colonial justifications2. The colonial career of Saxe Bannister3. Bannister's colonial philosophy4. Bannister's civilising scheme for the Aborigines of the British Empire5. Introducing the rule of law in the colonies6. Building an empire by treaty7. The outcomes of the assimilative project in the second half of the nineteenth century8. ConclusionPart III: Assimilation against colonialism: the struggle of the Muslim natives in French Algeria1. French conquest of Algeria2. Assimilation in French political culture3. Assimilating Algeria to France4. Assimilating the Muslim natives through the rule of French law5. Assimilating the natives through education6. The rise of racial politics7. Assimilation in post-First World War Algeria8. Assimilation in Algeria: the indigenous point of view9. ConclusionConclusion: Assimilation in post-colonial societiesBibliography