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Developing AfricaConcepts and practices in twentieth-century colonialism$
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Joseph M. Hodge, Gerald Hödl, and Martina Kopf

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091803

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091803.001.0001

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The tractor as a tool of development? The mythologies and legacies of mechanised tropical agriculture in French Africa, 1944 –56

The tractor as a tool of development? The mythologies and legacies of mechanised tropical agriculture in French Africa, 1944 –56

Chapter:
(p.179) Chapter Seven The tractor as a tool of development? The mythologies and legacies of mechanised tropical agriculture in French Africa, 1944 –56
Source:
Developing Africa
Author(s):

Céline Pessis

Matthew Vester

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719091803.003.0008

After the Second World War, the “mechanical climate” that dominated the new French Union guided the elaboration of ambitious development plans for the colonies. In line with the new interventionist policy of the colonial state, a large-scale mechanization program of tropical agriculture was designed under the control of metropolitan experts. It offered the promise of a technicist solution to the concomitant issues of raw materials, labour and erosion. In the end, however, it turned out to be a total disaster – from the technical, economic and environmental points of view. Based on the study of the genesis of this “mechanization plan”, this chapter considers the critical and expertise dynamics engendered by the field problems. It shows that, surprisingly enough, it is from the wreckage of this failed great project and through the confrontation with criticisms and obstacles that the tractor became a privileged tool of development.

Keywords:   Tropical agriculture, French West Africa, Mechanization, Tractor, Development experts, Development plans, Development projects, Post-war colonial development

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