Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Us and them: the otherness in perspective of colonial politics  


Vojtěch Šarše (Faculty of Arts, Charles University)

Paper long abstract:

British and French (or Belgian) colonial politics were devastating in African colonies, through the cultural and identity alienation they had changed the colonized societies. Until today the consequences are visible and objects of various discussions and not only in academic sphere. One of the most powerful aspect of those politics was European educational system brought to African continent, system which in some cases stayed rooted even after the decolonization (until today in some Sub-Saharan universities - specially in francophone countries -, they study so-called Lettres Modernes, examining the French classicistic theatre etc.). The colonizers along with their own knowledge imposed the occidental values and languages (even nowadays Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo or Boubacar Boris Diop fight against the omnipresence of English or French). To stress the superiority, the colonizers defined the "local" languages as almost criminal discourse, punished by several different manners (physical punishment, symbol of shame etc.).

In the same time, to legitimate their presence in colonies and even gain the support of the public opinion, the colonial powers stressed the white man's burden through the colonial propaganda. Several hundred of those works were released in the last thirty yours of colonial period (specially in Belgium). Most of them were about new schools established in colonies by European powers. Those institution enlightened the people of Africa usually portrayed as retarded children dependent on decisions of colonizer. In this paper, we will analyze several short "documentary" movies made in British and French (or Belgian) colonies in Africa. We will compare the propagandistic representation of education of colonized societies with the reality expressed by contemporary witnesses in interviews, in autobiographies-memoirs or registered in archives.

Panel A02
History of education in Africa [initiated by URMIS - Nice]