Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2022
In Chapter 8, we see how ICI members promoted the idea of a colonial welfare state at a low cost, based on mutuality and self-help. While craft guilds provided for a welfare system in urban regions, agricultural cooperatives assumed this task in more rural colonies. In the 1930s, a colonial cooperative movement emerged that stretched from Senegal to Madagascar and from India to Italy. Cooperatives were mutual loan, production, and marketing societies that collectively provided help to members in need. These cooperatives became the central element of the ICI’s development scheme. Their grassroots character was a governmental alternative to the huge investment programs of the 1930s to develop the colonies. However, the chapter also shows how colonial administrations used cooperatives to perpetuate enforced labor, wage dumping, collective punishment, additional taxation, and expropriation of land. Nevertheless, development agencies and international organizations continued to regard cooperatives as a crucial tool for educating Africans about collective work in the 1950s and 1960s. The ICI’s development schemes inspired the work of the ILO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, UNESCO, and the Economic Commission for Africa of the UN.