Imperial Mixtures and Paradoxes of Government in Colonial Senegal

Author(s): Francois Richard

Year: 2018


This paper examines the travails of colonial government in Senegal, looking specifically at material histories in the rural region of Siin. One tenet of French colonial policy was to govern through the operation of commerce, specifically through the infrastructure of cash-cropping. If peanut agriculture would, in principle, create both wealth for the colony and ‘African subjects,’ on the ground, peanuts combined with a web of material entities that bent, diverted, or interrupted the flow of imperial power: traditions of community-making; collective attachments to land, self-sufficiency, and ancestral influence; and cultural economies of objects, all of which had long shapeshifted to the beat of broader historical forces. These mixtures of imperial and vernacular materialities -- and the fields of agency they set in motion – find expression in the artifact assemblages of village vestiges occupied between 1800 and 1960. Tracing shifts in consumption practices during that period, I reflect on the fraught, ambiguous process of colonial rule, whose effects were chronically interrupted, twisted, or evaded by Siin villagers; at the same time, colonial commerce also gradually wove peasants into a web of dependencies – on markets and the state, primarily – whose strains are still felt in rural Senegal today.

Cite this Record

Imperial Mixtures and Paradoxes of Government in Colonial Senegal. Francois Richard. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444179)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20593