West African Challenge to Empire — 2002

Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War

By Mahir Şaul and Patrick Royer

“This is only one of many historical studies written by anthropologists in recent years, but it is surely one of the best.”

The International History Review

West African Challenge to Empire examines the anticolonial war in the Volta and Bani region in 1915-16. It was the largest challenge that the French ever faced in their West African colonial empire, and one of the largest armed oppositions to colonialism anywhere in Africa. How such a movement could be organized in the face of European technological superiority despite the fact that this region is generally described as having consisted of rival villages and descent groups is a puzzle. In this jointly written book the two authors provide a detailed political and military history of this event based on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork. Using cultural and sociological analysis, it probes the origins of the movement, its internal organization, its strategy, and the reasons for its initial success and why it spread.

In 2001 the authors of West African Challenge to Empire were awarded the Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology by the Royal Anthropological Institute.


Picture of Mahir Şaul

Mahir Şaul is a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is coauthor of African Challenge to Empire: Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War and author of many articles on West African anthropology and social and economic history.

  • Winners of Amaury Talbot Prize
Cover of 'West African Challenge to Empire'

Downloads & Links

Reviews

  • The Historian
  • American Historical Review, February 2005
  • The Journal of African History, Vol. 46, July 2005
  • Choice
  • The Intl. Journal of African Historical Studies

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