France in Rhodesia
: French policy and perceptions throughout the era of decolonisation

  • Joanna Frances Warson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis analyses French policies towards and perceptions of the British colony of Rhodesia, from the immediate aftermath of the Second World War up until the territory’s independence as Zimbabwe in 1980. Its main objective is to challenge notions of exceptionality associated with Franco-African relations, by investigating French engagement with a region outside of its traditional sphere of African influence.

The first two chapters explore the development of Franco-Rhodesian relations in the eighteen years following the establishment of a French Consulate in Salisbury in 1947. Chapter One examines the foreign policy mind-set that underpinned French engagement with Rhodesia at this time, whilst Chapter Two addresses how this mind-set operated in practice. The remaining three chapters explore the evolution of France’s presence in this British colony in the fourteen and a half years following the white settlers’ Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Chapter Three sets out the particularities of the post-1965 context, in terms of France’s foreign policy agenda and the situation on the ground in Central Southern Anglophone Africa. Chapter Four analyses how the policies of state and non-state French actors were implemented in Rhodesia after 1965, and Chapter Five assesses the impact of these policies for France’s relations with Africa, Britain and the United States, as well as for the end of European rule in Rhodesia.

This thesis argues that France’s African vision began to expand to include Anglophone Africa, not in the post colonial or post-Cold War eras, but immediately following the Second World War, thus challenging the view that France was solely concerned with its own African Empire at this time. Throughout, Rhodesia was intertwined with France’s policies towards Francophone Africa in terms of motivations, methods and men. This, in turn, had far reaching consequences for France’s presence on the African continent, its relationship with “les Anglo-Saxons” and the course of Rhodesian decolonisation.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorTony Chafer (Supervisor), Emmanuel Godin (Supervisor) & Martin Evans (Supervisor)

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