ABSTRACT

Recentworkincolonialstudieshasfocusedonthecontestedandfragmented natureof(post)colonialdiscourses.Inthisemergingbodyofwork,authors attempttoanalyzecolonialismandthediscourseitproducedfromacultural frameworkthatisanti-essentialist.AsNicholasDirkspointsout: "Colonialismnotonlyhashadculturaleffectsthathavetoooftenbeeneither ignoredordisplacedintoinexorablelogicsofmodernizationandworldcapitalism,itwasitselfaculturalproductofcontrol."1And,asNicholasThomas putsit:"Colonialculturesarenotsimpleideologiesthatmask,mystify,or rationalizeformsofoppressionthatareexternaltothem;theyarealsoexpressiveandconstitutiveofcolonialrelationshipsinthemselves:'2

Muchhasbeenwrittenaboutthenatureofpopularresistancetocolonialdomination.Colonialhistorianshavelongdescribedcampaignsof militaryresistancetotheonsetofcolonialrule.Muchlesshasbeenwritten, however,onthecontemporarymilitaryresistancetooppressiveruleinthe postcolonialstates.CurrentarmedresistancemovementsinMali,Niger, andTogo,forexample,arecasesinpoint.Resistance,ofcourse,hasnever beenlimitedtomilitaryrevolt.HistorianslikeE.P.Thompsonandpolitical scientistslikeJamesScotthavewritteneloquentlyonthedynamicsofculturalresistanceinEnglandandMalaysia.Scotthastermedthevarious mediaofculturalresistance"weaponsoftheweak:'

Therearetwomajorproblemsassociatedwiththeliteratureoncolonial

and postcolonial resistance. The first is a lack of ethnographic specificity. Undifferentiated peasants or plebs employ symbolic weapons that "resist" the oppression of colonial rule.3 Indeed, analysts of movements of resistance sometimes miss the sociocultural nuances embodied in parodic forms of cultural expression. All the more reason to ground analyses of resistance in West Africa and Niger in historical and ethnographic specifics. The second problem is brilliantly stated by Achille Mbembe whose argument applies both to colonial and postcolonial relations of power. He writes:

In this part of the book, I attempt to take up Mbembe's challenge by describing from a multiperspectival cultural vantage the complexities of colonial culture in West Africa. By carefully situating the historical and social context of West African military and cultural opposition to European colonialism, the chapters in this part of the book will establish a regional framework from which we will consider, in Part Three, the establishment of and opposition to colonialism in Niger. 6

This part of the book is divided into three chapters. In Chapter Four, I describe the forces that drove the nineteenth-century colonial powers (France and Britain) to partition West Africa. In Chapter Five, I consider the establishment of colonial rule, and describe the construction of an embodied hegemonic discourse. 7 And in Chapter Six, I demonstrate how West Africans defied colonial culture through embodied oppositions. Chapters Four, Five and Six are intended to give non-Africanist readers a very short course on the history of European-West African contact. Readers interested in more nuanced historical dispositions or in historiographic debate, of which there is a great deal, are urged to consult the notes.