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6 - Creating an “Anti-Geneva Bloc” and the Question of Representivity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2022

Florian Wagner
Affiliation:
Universität Erfurt, Germany
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Summary

Chapter 6 reveals that the ICI joined forces with the League of Nations‘ Permanent Mandate Commission (PMC) in 1919 to shift the debate about decolonization from sovereignty to representivity. That focus on representivity enabled the ICI to claim that no group really represented the allegedly fragmented colonized population. On these grounds, ICI members who had joined the League of Nations also delegitimized the complaints that Africans and Asian had sent to the League’s PMC. The ICI members dismissed those “abusive petitions” to the League as forgeries by a riotous and unrepresentative minority. The PMC and the ICI strategically kept the debate about representation going, and it never ended. In the interwar period, this debate served to dismiss nationalist voices as unrepresentative and to defend forced labor against the ILO’s initiative to ban it from the colonial world in the 1930s. While styling itself as the representative of colonial authenticity, the ICI had to appease the emancipatory movements. To do so, members of the ICI designed representative councils in the colonies, such as the Volksraad in Indonesia and invited some of their protégés to represent their colonies at international organizations. Restricted representation for moderate elites delegitimized allegedly alienated Westernized anti-colonialists.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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