At the end of World War II, the French government sought to reorganize its relationship with the overseas territories. The French wanted to develop a new legal framework to govern their territories and determine the rights of the colonial subjects. Changing the name of the empire from “French Empire” to the “French Union” supposedly embodied this political evolution. The French territories in Cameroon and Togo – which at the time included separate territories under French and British mandates – were thus incorporated into this new union. While allowing for relative liberalization of social and political life, the 1946 reforms also perpetuated, to an extent, the imperial view that structured social relations in the territories. Under articles 80, 81, and 82, the 1946 French Constitution created a two-tier citizenship that would configure the colonies’ social and political organization during the following decades. For citizens of the metropole and French nationals overseas, their social and political rights fell under the status of French citizens, but for all others, their rights were determined by the ambiguous status of the French Union. For the latter, access to rights depended on a set of conditions not imposed on French citizens. This was particularly true for the right to vote and social benefits for families.

This paragraph is an excerpt of a much more longer text publish in the above book (see picture) under the original title:

  • Social Imaginaries in Tension? The Women of Cameroon’s Battle for Equal Rights under French Rule at the Turn of the 1940s–50s (pp. 237-254)