Just Like in Colonial Times? Administrative Practice and Local Reflections on 'Grassroots Neocolonialism' In Autonomous And Postcolonial Dahomey, 1958-65
In Dahomey (Benin) during the period of autonomy and the first years of independence, the reference to a colonial past was an important instrument and point of debate. Members of a new group of politicians used it to accuse trade union leaders to make unrealistic claims; local peasants mobilized it as their point of reference against infrastructure projects; officials discussed it to make sense of tax refusals, while locals invoked older forms of tax resistance they had practiced under colonial rule. This article follows the different relationships with the colonial past, through the regions of Abomey and Porto-Novo, and shows how these experiences were viewed by local residents and by nationalist leaders, such as Justin Ahomadegbé. It also serves as an example and an injunction to make use of the administrative postcolonial archive.