Home Institution

Columbia University

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Senegal: Arts and Culture


This project examines the history of the Dakar-Niger railroad from its birth to its decline to illuminate the nature of the rail strike of 1947-1948 in French West Africa. The strike would prove to be a landmark in the continuous resistance of colonized peoples against the colonial state. The railroad was and is a physical as well as an invisible presence in the economic, political, and social history, and the connections that would form around this history of resistance and of colonialism from its earliest days would come to define not only the strike but the history of Senegal and of West Africa in general. In this endeavor, archival and secondary data collection formed the brunt of research, but interviews with historical witnesses and participant observation of ex-colonial railroad sites proved invaluable to the project. In analyzing the patterns of connection, coercion and and resistance that came out of this research, the project examines colonial policies and practices, individual and collective strikes, the community ties that solidified the unionism, and the politics and ideologies that shaped or attempted to shape the labor movement.


African History | History | Political History | Social History


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