The End of Empires and Some Linguistic Turns: British and French Language Policies in Inter- and Postwar Africa

  • Diana Lemberg
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


This chapter analyzes language education in Anglo-French relations in Africa from the late-colonial era to the 1960s. First, I posit “linguistic containment”—the desire to contain the spread of Western languages—as a shared objective of interwar British and French policymakers, who wished to forestall political mobilizations by educated colonial subjects. Contact and collaboration helped to produce this intercolonial convergence. Second, I discuss growing British and French interest after 1945 in promoting English and French, respectively, in Africa. While support for Western-language education was initially a means of reforming colonial education, it was reinforced by decolonization, which spurred metropolitan elites to pursue new cultural and economic ties to their former colonies. Finally, the chapter discusses how this turn generated competition between the ex-colonial powers, with Britain riding the wave, only partly of its own making, of global English, while France looked to la francophonie to counterbalance Anglo-American influence in the decolonizing world.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Lemberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Lingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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