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October 3: Lecture

Monday, October 3, 2016, 12:30 p.m.

Monday, October 3, at 12:30pm-2pm, CIRHUS will host Professor Daniel Speich of the University of Lucerne for a paper on "The Ambivalent Role of Planning in African Decolonization"

The end of European imperial rule in Africa around 1960 certainly did not follow a pattern of planned decolonization but must in its totality rather be understood as a "colonial situation“ (Balandier). My argument is that precisely because of the chaotic nature of the process of decolonization the very idea gained considerable importance in it that social change could be planned on a sound statistical basis (the emerging shorthand for this was "development"). My paper delves into this special instance of “l’Afrique ambigüe” (again according to Balandier). My empirical basis is previous research on East Africa and on International Organizations such as the Addis Ababa based UN Regional Commission. The first section highlights the absence of quantitative statistics as a tool in late British colonial rule over East Africa. The second section contrasts this finding to dominant perspectives in current scholarship that to my view clearly over-emphasize the role of rational planning and simplify its historical effects (e.g. Bonneuil and Hodge). In the East African case, planning was not so much an instance of British dominance, but became a tool of African nationalist emancipation and technical internationalist’s promises. This will be shown in the third section.

The event will be held at CIRHUS, 4 Washington Square North, at the Dean's Conference Room on the second floor. For more information on Professor Speich, please see his website.