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2 - A Transcolonial Governmentality Sui Generis

The Invention of Emulative Development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2022

Florian Wagner
Affiliation:
Universität Erfurt, Germany
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Summary

Chapter 2 shows how transnational cooperation in Europe led to the ICI’s invention of transcolonial and emulative development in the 1890s. The ICI’s transcolonial development differed from the state-led investment programs of the 1930s but resembled the functional governance famous among the UN development agencies in the 1960s. For utilitarian, racist, and ethical reasons, tropical hygienists, free-trade capitalists, Social Christians, and colonial lawyers in the ICI assumed that only the intrinsic motivation of Africans and Asians themselves could make colonial development a success. In the 1890s, the ICI’s showcase project was the Matadí-Léopoldville railway line in the Congo Free State, which successfully combined international investment and emulative development. The ICI facilitated the transcolonial recruitment of 10,000 indigenous workers for the construction by establishing rules for their employment. Although many workers died on the construction site, ICI members propagated a “soft” development that allegedly combined economic with ethical standards. Christian ICI members promoted this “ethical” development policy. Rarely, however, the ICI’s “soft” development could live up to the expectations it raised. Instead, ICI members designed colonial law and manipulated customary law to use both as a legal basis for exploitation under the guise of “soft development.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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