2012-06-01Buch DOI: 10.18452/3249
»Les Noirs Perfectionnés«
Cultural Embourgeoisement in Belgian Congo during the 1940s and 1950s
The working paper deals with the making of the African elite in late colonial Belgian Congo and the role of cultural embourgeoisement in negotiating its place in the social order. It follows the premise that the discourse on social categories and the political attempts to invent, maintain and transform the colonial order has to be combined with what the actors made of it. By investigating the discussion and politics of officially recognizing the African elite as well as their medial, social and private spaces, it argues that by playing out their ascribed intermediary position between colonizers and colonized, the évolués strived for a better place in the social order. The main argument is that cultural embourgeoisement was crucial to the making of the African elite. Cultural embourgeoisement will be analyzed as both an empowerment strategy of colonial subjects for upward mobility, and the colonial state’s policy to assert difference and maintain social order in times of crisis. The African elite were thus representations of a two-folded and highly ambivalent colonial change.
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