G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires

Welfare and development in colonial societies (19th – 20th centuries): Actors, institutions, and dynamics

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

    Sunday, 28 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires
Convenor
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo (University of Coimbra)
  • Alessandro Stanziani (École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
Chair
  • Gareth Austin (University of Cambridge)
Commentator
  • Gareth Austin (University of Cambridge)
Panelists
  • Alessandro Stanziani (École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
  • Alexander Keese (University of Geneva)
  • Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk (Utrecht University)
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo (University of Coimbra)
  • Andreas Eckert (Humboldt University of Berlin)
  • Ravi Ahuja (Georg-August University of Göttingen)

Papers

  • Alessandro Stanziani
    Labor and welfare in the French Congo, 1890s-1914

    Labor and welfare in the French Congo, 1890s-1914

    The limits of European abolitionism in Africa testify not only to those of imperialism but also to a broader connection between neocolonialism and the transmutation of capitalism in Europe itself, notably, the second industrial revolution and the emergence of the welfare state. This chapter shows that new rules more favorable to working people in France (and Britain as well) were purposely excluded to colonial “subjects” considered too backward to correctly enter these new rules. This chapter pays a special attention to French Equatorial Africa, a most neglected (by the historiography) area. Here French attitudes were the most brutal, profits were low, control over the local population weak and legal rights for local population –already weak in other colonies- were almost non-existent.
  • Alexander Keese
    Attempts at welfare in a late colonial port: “social issues” in Pointe-Noire, 1945–1963

    Attempts at welfare in a late colonial port: “social issues” in Pointe-Noire, 1945–1963

    Starting with Decolonization and African Society by Frederick Cooper, a small but growing number of studies have discussed social measures and growing welfare standards in late French colonies in French West Africa (AOF), French Equatorial Africa (AEF) and Cameroun. However, a number of interpretations have remained at the level of struggles such as the AOF railway strike or the strike movement towards the introduction of a Labour Code. On the practical implementation of social politics, social change over a decade and a half (often prolonged into the earlier post-independence period), and the interaction of newly created and “africanised” services and local populations, have rarely been studied. This paper strives to offer a case study, but in connection to colonial strategies and intercolonial expert debates (whose importance on the local implementation would need to be measured). Interpreting a new and spectacular “social issues” material from the city of Pointe-Noire, capital of the Middle-Congo between 1949 and 1958, but, especially, the most important port of French Equatorial Africa, will allow finding the complexities and contradictions of implementing social policy, in a city that knew considerable population growth in the period after the Second World War. The paper will also question how concerns for social policies changed with semi-autonomy of the Congolese territory in 1957, autonomy in late 1958 and ultimately independence in 1960.
  • Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk
    Ideological underpinnings of the Welfare State: The case of women’s and child labour legislation and general education in the Dutch Empire, ca. 1870-1940

    Ideological underpinnings of the Welfare State: The case of women’s and child labour legislation and general education in the Dutch Empire, ca. 1870-1940

    This paper analyses the emergence of the welfare state in an imperial context: that of the Dutch Empire, in the period 1870 to 1940. In this period, a particular political culture emerged, in which Christian notions of “good guardianship” and the “civilisation” of the population legitimised a degree of state intervention in their welfare – both in the metropolis (the Netherlands) and its most important colony (the Dutch East Indies). The role of women and children in this process of “moral uplifting” was pivotal. Also, the initiatives taken (or omitted) by the state to implement social provisions in both parts of the empire are investigated, with a particular focus on labour legislation and general education between 1870 and 1940. In this period, measures for labour protection and investments in general education drastically increased in the metropole, but lagged seriously in the colony. In the 1920s, the Dutch were even summoned by the ILO to abandon practices of women’s and children’s night work and child labour more generally, according to the Conventions they had ratified for the mother country, but were reluctant to follow in the colonial context. Debates in Parliament were fierce, and arguments about racial and cultural differences were employed to justify the continuation of these harsh labour conditions. Thus, whereas the socio-political context led to concerns underpinned by similar ideologies, in the course of the late colonial period rhetoric diverged more and more in order to legitimise different practices and legislation.
  • Miguel Bandeira Jeronimo
    “Labour, Welfare and Social Action”: The politics and policies of welfarism in the Portuguese colonial empire (1940s-1970s)

    “Labour, Welfare and Social Action”: The politics and policies of welfarism in the Portuguese colonial empire (1940s-1970s)

    This paper focuses on the politics and policies of welfare colonialism in colonial Angola and Mozambique, since the post-WWII momentum until decolonization, taking the question of labour as the fundamental observatory. Considering international and interimperial actors and dynamics, from the International Labour Organization to the Commission for Technical Cooperation in Africa South of the Sahara (CCTA), and providing some comparative insights, this paper assesses the role played by the Instituto do Trabalho, Previdência e Acção Social (Institute of Labour, Welfare and Social Action) in both territories, identifying its main projects and policies, before and after the abolition of forced labour marked by the Rural Labour Code of 1962, placing them in relation with the developmentalist drive that marked the period and, also, with the turbulent trajectory of imperial disengagement (since 1961). Therefore, the centrality of colonial labour issues in developmental programmes (Planos do Fomento), in arguments and repertoires of welfarism and in war efforts and “counter-insurgency” schemes will be at the core of this paper.
  • Andreas Eckert
    Solidarity and distribution: Notions and practices of welfare in Africa since World War II

    Solidarity and distribution: Notions and practices of welfare in Africa since World War II

    Because of the low importance of formal, institutionalized labor markets, state-sponsored systems of social security were never widely spread south of the Sahara. Even during the “short summer of the welfare state” in the decades after World War II, these state systems had only very limited and socially selective spheres of operation. On the other hand, those institutions, practices, and resources of “welfare production” that were not under state management enjoyed great importance. Government officials, development experts and scholars often referred to them in terms of “traditional” solidarity. More recently, some authors evoked a “distributive turn” which emphasizes that distributive practices, rather than traditional forms of economic production, became a central basis of welfare. Against this backdrop, this paper attempts to offer a long term perspective on changing notions and practices of welfare in Sub-Saharan Africa since the 1940s, looking especially at state employees and their ambivalent role within different regimes and ideologies of welfare.
  • Ravi Ahuja
    Workmen’s Compensation: Comparative perspectives on the making of formal employment relations in mid-twentieth century India

    Workmen’s Compensation: Comparative perspectives on the making of formal employment relations in mid-twentieth century India

    Workmen’s compensation has been among the first elements of welfare legislation aiming at industrial workers in many parts of the world. In India, the Workmen’s Compensation Act was passed by the colonial administration in 1923 in the shadow of rising labour movements. The Act remained, for many years, one of the most wide-ranging welfare initiatives though its implementation levels were notoriously low. The legal significance of workmen’s compensation legislation was, of course, that it turned issues of the labour process into matters of legal regulation, that it brought the shop floor at least potentially under the surveillance of the state. This paper compares the trajectory of workmen’s compensation in India with those in other parts of the world.

Abstract

This panel aims to address, from an historical perspective, ideas and policies of welfare and development, in specific colonial contexts and societies and in diverse chronologies, from the late nineteenth-century to the era of decolonization and the post-independence momentum. Engaging with different case-studies, and diverse imperial and colonial projects, from the French and the Dutch to the British and the Portuguese, this panel will specifically focus on the emergence and historical transformation of the colonial state as a crucial agent in the elaboration, transfer and enactment of particular languages and repertoires of welfarism and developmentalism. Notably shaped by processes of racialization and constrained by varying political and socioeconomic circumstances – local, metropolitan, international –, the latter frequently entailed significant restrictions to the social, “native” policies being implemented, influencing their nature, rationales, and (un)intended consequences. The provision of social rights (e.g. labour or political) and the execution of successive “native policies” (on health, labour or education, for instance) varied in time, from colonial project to colonial project (notwithstanding significant interimperial and intercolonial cooperation on these affairs), and from trajectory of decolonization to trajectory of decolonization, impacting on the postcolonial possibilities and options. Taking into consideration these processes and circumstances (and analytical principles), this panel will deal with legal frameworks, political decision-making processes, politics and policies of difference (including gender), institutional arrangements and, of course, instances and forms of negotiation, appropriation or resistance to the welfare and developmental state in the colonial and postcolonial situations by local societies.