"The capital of the men without a country": migrants and anticolonialism in interwar Paris

This article explores the role of interwar Paris as a marketplace for the global spread of anticolonialism. By examining the social bedrock for the flourishing of ideas, it anchors the early intellectual history of liberation movements in the everyday lives of migrants in the metropole, thus combining urban with global history. Migrants from across the French Empire who in Paris became the leaders of ethnic community associations receive particular attention. Their politicization owed much to the fact that the global disparities of the imperial order became much more visible from a vantage point such as Paris. On the other hand, cross-community exchange further highlighted these disparities and encouraged a process of mutual learning. Anti-imperialist activists from beyond the empire—for instance, fledgling Chinese communists such as Zhou Enlai—therefore also contributed to turning Paris into a production center of anticolonialism. Rather than concentrating on the bilateral relationship between France and one colonial setting, the article thus engages with a gamut of different communities, arguing that transfers between them fueled the spread of anticolonial ideas.

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In: The American Historical Review. - Vol. 121(2016), Issue 5, p. 1444–1467
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