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Anti-imperial metropolis: political networks of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans in interwar Paris

Final Report Summary - AIP1918 (Anti-imperial metropolis: political networks of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans in interwar Paris)

This project has examined the political networks forged by Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans in Paris between the two World Wars. The project, and the publications that it produced, have contributed to a better understanding of how these networks fed into the discursive construction of evolving cultural identities and anti-imperial nationalisms among the foreigners and colonial subjects residing in Paris. Combining migration history, colonial history, and intellectual history, it brought together strands of scholarship that so far have too often been compartmentalized into subfields. Through archival research in several countries, Anti-Imperial Metropolis exemplarily tied meticulous attention to the social history of a particular locale (interwar Paris) to a global argument about how post-WWII decolonization eventually created a world dominated by nation-states. Both project and publications were thereby ultimately linked to a wider scholarship concerning the history of nationalism. In order to better understand this history, so the argument goes, it is crucial to link it to the social history of migration. Often it was the everyday experiences of migrants, first and foremost in places such as Paris, that kindled escalating demands for citizenship, which ultimately found expression in a growing number of independent nation-states after World War II.

Although, prior to this project, there had been various strands of scholarship dealing with aspects of the research presented in Anti-Imperial Metropolis, the project built on them and combined them into a clear and broad argument. According to a review (by Tyler Stovall) of the published book, the outcome is “an engaging of a diverse group of workers and intellectuals from different shores,” which “anyone interested in the transnational history of the modern world will find [...] an intriguing and at times provocative study.” Cemil Aydin of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has called it “one of the best history books I have read in recent times.” A broad range of dissemination strategies involved scholarly articles, journalistic pieces, conference talks, blog entries, and video and podcast interviews. The main findings were published in a single monograph, which came out with Cambridge University Press in August 2015. As the book, and by extension the project, have been widely acclaimed, they have also helped the career development and (re-)integration of Michael Goebel, the lead researcher of Anti-Imperial Metropolis. Goebel received his Habilitation at the Freie Universität Berlin in July 2014 on the basis of this project. In July 2015 he was appointed full professor at the same university.

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Relevant contact details can be obtained there.