David Villani L&S Arts & Humanities
African Nationalism and the French Communist Party
My research seeks to understand the origins, establishment, and decline of the alliance between the French Communist Party (PCF) and the African Democratic Rally (RDA), the largest union of nationalist parties in French West Africa.
The brief alliance, which lasted from 1946 to 1950, coincided with years of radical reconceptualizations about the position of Europe in Africa and Africa in the world. The alliance between the RDA and the PCF is a critical and, to my mind, misunderstood moment in this history. Rather than a momentary marriage of convenience, a study of the figures involved and their personal histories reveals a significant mutual engagement and overlap between French communists and African nationalists.
In my research, I will explore how the PCF came to this alliance, and how they placed African decolonization within a political calculus that balanced Soviet leadership, domestic legitimacy, and party agency. From this, I hope to draw broader conclusions about the political mechanisms of synthesis and the intellectual and cultural relationship between Africa and Europe.