University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > History and Economics Seminar > Empire of inequality: the politics of taxation in the French colonial empire, 1900-1950s

Empire of inequality: the politics of taxation in the French colonial empire, 1900-1950s

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I will present an outline of my current book project, Empire of inequality: the politics of taxation in the French colonial empire, which explores the history and politics of colonial taxation, one of the most powerful tools of domination in the French empire between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This book argues that taxation was not only a way of raising money for colonial states but also an instrument of rule and a central focus of anti-colonial resistance. Based on research conducted in thirteen archival repositories in Algeria, hexagonal France, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Senegal and Vietnam, the book examines the ways in which colonial tax regimes were established, debated, resisted, reformed, and transformed. To do so, it draws upon a wide array of sources: the archives of the French metropolitan state, those of various French colonial states in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, the writings of colonial theorists, the publications of imperial watchdog organizations, literary production, as well as the settler, reformist, and anticolonial press. Using the lens of colonial taxpayers and imperial policymakers as they navigated the material and moral consequences of colonial fiscal segregation, the book seeks to offer both a dynamic study of imperial fiscal hierarchies from 1900 to the 1950s and a new analysis of anti-colonial resistance as tax resistance.

This talk is part of the History and Economics Seminar series.

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