Rebellion and Mobilisation in French and German colonies, 1914-1918

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: History Faculty

Abstract

Pursuing a more global understanding of the First World War our international team consisting of Jonathan Krause (University of Oxford), Julie d'Andurain (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Richard Fogarty (State University New York, Albany) and Jan-Georg Deutsch (Oxford) will examine the mobilisation of German colonies during the Great War and the widespread resistance this mobilisation engendered. Our research will provide new insight into the nature and lifecycle of regional uprisings with the parallels to the 2010-2011 Arab Spring making our study uniquely resonant with contemporary concerns. By covering a geographic area stretching from Senegal to Indochina, including comparative studies of the French and German experiences, our research will provide a global perspective on the wider impact of the First World War.
The widespread unrest which erupted in France's colonies has not yet been studied in its own right. Krause leads this core aspect of the project researching the rebellions in Africa and South East Asia. These rebellions were very often a direct consequence of French efforts to recruit colonial subjects into the French armed forces, thus necessitating a study of colonial mobilisation during the war. Krause will pull together the histories of these multitudinous uprisings to produce the first history of these rebellions as a whole. Even if these rebellions 'failed' they set the parameters for continued dialogue between France and its colonial subjects, and as such are an important part of the broader history of European imperialism.
Working collaboratively Krause and d'Andurain will refine this examination of colonial unrest by looking at the language used by French officials to describe rebels and rebellions. Typically the French wrote off uprisings as the action of mere 'pirates', brigands interested only in plunder. Failing this, French officials often tried to blame the unrest on racial or religious tension (especially with Muslim subjects). This tenency to disregard the rebels' motives, a tendency that still too often plagues modern governments, naturally coloured French responses to unrest. It constrained their ability to make peace with their colonial subjects and tells us a great deal about identity in colonial struggles. Krause and d'Andurain's work will provide the group with a better understanding of the psychology behind French decision-making as French officials dealt with the rebellions facing them.
Fogarty will work with Krause to explore the role of Islam in colonial France, including the experience of French Muslim prisoners of war in Germany and the Ottoman Empire. Muslims in the French army came from North and West Africa, and their experiences tell us a great deal about how colonial subjects self-identified, and also about the regional diversity within Islam. Contrary to popular European views at the time, the Muslim world was highly diverse with populations often identifying themselves by region, culture, or language in addition to faith. The result was a substantial diversity in the Muslim world that is still relevant today. Fogarty's work helps the team understand the identities and world-views of colonial rebels, providing critical insights into how colonial subjects chose between passive or active resistance, cooperation or rebellion.
Deutsch and Krause will work together to provide an important comparative study of the mobilisation of French and German colonies in Africa. This will contextualize the group's work on French colonies and expand the geographic limits of our research. Germany's colonial experience was drastically different due to the British blockade which substantially limited Germany's ability to bring colonial resources to Europe. Instead, Germany cooperated with colonial subjects to launch extensive military campaigns, especially in Africa. This work will provide necessary contextualization for our research on mobilisation and resistance in the Great War.

Planned Impact

In the 1960s the work of Fritz Fischer, Barbara Tuchman, and many others played crucial roles in the socio-political discourse of their time. Capitalising on the 50th anniversary of the First World War Tuchman's The Guns of August, for example, inspired a generation of influential world leaders to consider how their actions might prevent, or contribute to, the eruption of a global conflagration. The book's message was pitch perfect for a Cold War world perched continually on the brink of nuclear war. Whilst the runaway success of Tuchman's work is unlikely to be repeated, we aim to similarly ride a wave of renewed interest in the First World War to expand the audience for our research and address issues pertinent to the world today.
Whereas 50 years ago the greatest threat to peace and prosperity was that of nuclear annihilation today that threat comes in the form of regional instability; rebellions that fracture polities and carry with them the potential to light entire regions aflame. The Arab Spring (2010-2011) is the most direct example. Its rapid spread, the importance of religion, language and ethnicity in the identities of both insurgent and counter-insurgent alike, and its vastly complex social, political and security implications were too complicated to be analysed and understood in real time. Without reference to the past today's policy-makers were forced to improvise their responses in a vacuum. Our work will have the opportunity to filter into the broader consciousness of strategists, security experts, and governmental policy-makers interested in regional instability, Africa and Islam. It will provide a much deeper understanding of the nature of rebellion, how unrest can spread to engulf entire regions, and the language, attitudes, and self-identification that shape regional unrest. Our work on identity and diversity in the Muslim world will further contextualise this research and give us a deeper understanding of Islam past and present and, crucially, offer insights into the relationship between 'the West' and 'Islam' (while also, in fact, challenging these monolithic categories) in the contemporary world. Working with the Changing Character of War programme and the École Militaire our research will be directly communicated to policy-makers and practitioners tasked with addressing modern security concerns.
Our research will also make a major contribution to the ongoing commemorations tied to the centenary of the First World War, making the case for a global understanding of the conflict and its implications, rather than the nationalist perspective that still predominates in much of the history written about the war. Working within the framework set up by the Globalising and Localising the Great War research network in the History Faculty of the University of Oxford our researchers will engage with the media and other public outlets, contributing to their centenary commemorations. The events being planned by governmental and non-governmental organisations are in constant need of scholarly input, which will provide ample opportunity for our researchers to engage directly with the public. The Imperial War Museum, the Musée de l'Armée and public organizations like No Glory in War and the Western Front Association would all benefit from the new perspectives we will bring to the war. This effect will be heightened by the international spread of our team. Maintaining researchers in the UK, US and France will give the opportunity to broadcast our research in Europe and North America in both English and French. The global scope of our study will help engender global impact. The geographical scope of our research includes most of Africa and South East Asia. It will enhance and enrich the understanding many of these regions have of their long and difficult roads to independence. It will help refine understanding of their historical identities, and enrich our shared global history.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Thus far the research conducted through this grant has exposed the sheer ubiquity of anticolonial sentiment and action arising from the First World War. What was once a narrative limited to Ireland's Easter Rising and the Arab Revolt must now be expanded to include the entire colonial systems of the major belligerent powers in the war. While still underway, the research for this project has exposed the struggles for independence in parts of the world as disparate as Vietnam, Niger and Madagascar. As the work progresses in the post-award years this grand narrative will expand to include nearly the entire of colonised Africa, and large parts of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Asia. Combined with momentous changes and struggles felt among African-Americans and certain Central and Eastern European ethnic minorities we are building the case for a true history of the First World War 'from below': from the perspective of those scattered voices crying out for liberty and justice.
Exploitation Route First and foremost the project should inspire a new wave of interest and publications around the topic of oppressed, marginalised or colonised peoples in the context of the First World War. The PI will take this forward in the post-award years and will expand the initial scope of the project from one focused on the French and German empires, to one focused on empire more broadly. Other scholars working on Central Asia and the Middle East, especially, can take our initial findings forward and expand on them substantially.
Sectors Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Other

 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation Leiden University
Department Institute for History
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation University of Coimbra
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department School of Engineering Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation University of Quebec
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past 
Organisation University of Warwick
Department Department of Politics and International Studies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In 2016, as a direct result of the research I have been conducting for this grant, I was invited to join the funded international research network 'Understanding Insurgencies: resonances from the colonial past', led by Martin Thomas and Gareth Curless at the University of Exeter. This project links more than half a dozen universities from Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Italy in a grand study of insurgency from a historical, legal, international relations, moral and ethical point of view. The project is continually growing, and will produce a series out outward-looking outputs, including an online repository of findings and at least one edited volume at the end of the project in 2019. As a member I have given one paper, and am currently organising a workshop in Oxford on the comparative study of colonial insurgencies in March 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided the funding for a series of workshops, have created our digital online space for sharing documents and research and are facilitating on-going discussions, collaborations and later publications.
Impact Collaboration is multi-disciplinary, but has not produced any outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This academic year we have used funds from this grant to organise a seminar series focusing on the issues and topics related to our grant (namely, global aspects of the First World War). These seminar papers, given by scholars from across Europe, are being recorded and will be podcast via iTunesU to act as an enduring source of information for students and the general public for years to come. As PI I have taken over as convener for the seminar series, which will include speakers from our research network. Attendance is generally around 20 individuals, including students, academics, and military officers from Europe and North America. Once the podcasts go live we expect at least 1,000 views per year, overwhelmingly from members of the general public. Already, regular attendees have reported that their views of the topics we have covered thus far have evolved greatly. We expect the same will happen when the podcasts go live and the general public is able to more easily engage with our research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016