Thursday, Dec 2, 2010, 6:15 PM

Frederick Cooper

Professor of History, New York University; z. Zt. Fellow am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Social Rights and Sovereignty at the End of Empire: Labour and Economic Development in Decolonizing Africa

Gesprächsleitung: Prof. Dr. Andreas Eckert, Berlin

Where social rights are located is as difficult and contested a question as that of what those rights are. The talk, focusing on French and British Africa after 1945, explores the relationship of citizenship, social rights, and sovereignty at a time when all of these concepts were uncertain and contested. Might not rights adhere not just to the people of a “nation”, or the people of an empire – who were in some sense British or French – but to the universal quality of the human being? Such a possibility was expressed in the Universal Declaration of 1948. In the era of decolonisation, the controversies about colonial empire led many leaders to assert a universal right to self-determination and national sovereignty. At the same time, universal social rights transcended national boundaries. Any attempt to impose “universal” social norms within the boundaries of a nation-state could be seen as interference, as neo-colonialism. Yet, such arguments presume a naturalness to national borders and a priority of sovereignty over other values – an order of things that was very much in question at a recent point in world history.

Frederick Cooper ist Professor für Geschichte an der New York University. Er ist Autor einer Trilogie über Arbeit und Gesellschaft in Ostafrika sowie von Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa (1996), Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (2002) und Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (2005). Zudem ist er Mitautor u.a. von Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (2010, mit Jane Burbank). Er ist derzeit Fellow am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, wo er an einer Geschichte der Staatsbürgerschaft in Frankreich und Französisch-Westafrika zwischen 1945 und 1960 schreibt.

Andreas Eckert ist Professor der Geschichte im Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften und Leiter des Internationalen Geisteswissenschaftlichen Kollegs “Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History” an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The event will be held in English

Eine Gemeinschaftsveranstaltung mit dem Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam