Legacies of Anglo-French Colonial Borders: A West African and Southeast Asian Comparison

William F. S. Miles


This paper applies the paradigm of colonial Anglo-French land partition of indigenous peoples to two discrete borderlands: the Upper Mekong in Southeast Asia, separating Burma/Myanmar from Laos; and Hausaland in West Africa, separating Nigeria from Niger. Effected at approximately the same time (late 19th century) by similar means (diplomatic convention) and with similar local impact (division of indigenous ethnic groups), long-term consequences of colonial partition sharply differentiate the two borderlands today: Africa bears a much stronger imprint of colonialism than does the Mekong. In certain respects, however, the two former French colonies of Laos and Niger resemble each other more than they do their geographical neighbors of former British Burma and Nigeria. Comparing geoculturally different borderlands provides perspectives that idiographic analyses may not.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229