Contested Claims: Law, Islam, and Citizenship in French Colonial Senegal


ACLS Project Development Grants




Senegal was the site of a legal anomaly: four towns whose inhabitants claimed and exercised rights usually reserved for French citizens, but did so while conducting their personal affairs according to Muslim law rather than the French civil code. This project explores how Senegalese men and women mobilized their own ideas about citizenship to seek political rights, legal protections, religious autonomy, and economic opportunities. It shows that, as they made claims on the French state, they also prompted debate about the compatibility of Muslim law and French citizenship and called attention to the tensions and contradictions underpinning French imperialism.