Wright Politics of Design in French colonies

Wright Politics of Design in French colonies - i i I 1 ,.~...

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i I i 1 1 1 ,..~ THE POLITICS : D~SIGN ~ ~~~NC~ COLONIAL U~BANISM GWE~DO~"~ WRIGHT ~ THE UNIVE R S ITY OF CH I C A G O Chicago and London PR E S S
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CHAP TER TW O glected in the development of human potential. It therefore requires, 48 above all, a perfect knowledge of the regions to be transformed . Even at the time, prominent professional geographers criticized Hardy's disdain for intangibles and his overly pragmatic focus on material topics." Jean Brunhes gained professional respect for this studies of artifacts and his topical comparisons between diverse settings. Brunhes, too, celebrated the ben- efits of applied geography in governmental or industrial decision-making. Dis- cussing the issue of colonial land tenure, for example , he affirmed the claims of Governor-General Martial Merlin of French East Africa: The conquering state does not possessproperty since it can at any time take possession of it. On the other hand , the natives cannot possess it, since they have no such idea. .. . When we arrive in these new coun - tries, the ground belongs to no one; it is in an indeterminate state, which must be determined. Now this state can be determined only by exploita- tion and by creating value. The land must be given only to those who exploit it and ma~it useful. 10 In particular, Brunhes ~sed roads and zoning, claiming they signified the growing strength of "world c rnerce, world circulation"-and hence modern improvements. I I Nonetheless, warned readers, this fast-paced life with little contact between different groups 0 classes could create a "sick agglomeration ," peopled by individuals with no sens of place or common commitment, and therefore prone to social anarchy. 12 "'" Even the rather abstract quality of Fre h social life and social criticism in 11 this period played a role in the fascination wi the colonies. In 19 Alfred de Tarde coauthored an influential analysis of con mporary attitudes among Les Jeunes gensd'auiourd'hui. IJ The son of one of Fran es most distinguished soci- ologists and later the author of an enthusiastic bOOK ntitled Le Maroc, ecole d'energie (19 1 5), de Tarde embodies the links between the worlds of French social science and colonial administration. The book c eluded that, since 1890, a desire for action had become the preeminent theme educated French youth: experience and results seemed far more mean ingful than ' tellectual con- structs. In much the same tone , Joseph Chailley-Bert's La France et la Ius grande France (19 02) , ostensibly calling for scientific research in the col ies, had pointed out that the overseas terrain could provide both theor etical c llenges and personal excitement for Frenchmen. He characterized the colonies "ex- periments, in whatever sense, whether laboratory or greenhouse, enterpris on 72 CO LON I A L O P PO R TUN I T I ES a small scale." Here one could take part in a mission "instituted uniquely with the goal of e icating, with no thought of cost, some truth, applicable or not,
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2010 for the course PPD 250m taught by Professor Hindery during the Fall '06 term at USC.

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Wright Politics of Design in French colonies - i i I 1 ,.~...

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