— MPS, Africana Studies, Cornell University
- E-mail: email@example.com
Danielle Sanchez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She received a Masters in Africana Studies from Cornell University. Her dissertation, "Free(ing) France in Colonial Brazzaville: Race, Urban Space, and the Making of Afrique Française Libre," examines Brazzaville’s role in remaking the Free France movement after the fall of France in 1940. It is relatively unknown that after metropolitan France fell to the Germans, French Equatorial Africa was one of the first places within the French empire to rally behind Charles de Gaulle to continue the fight against fascism. Suddenly, Brazzaville, a marginal city in the French empire prior to the fall of France, became the capital of Afrique Française Libre. It provided a geographical base for the Gaullist cause and offered a semblance of legitimacy to this movement through propaganda campaigns that presented a Brazzaville that was fierce, loyal, and modern. Yet, Europeans and Africans experienced both the city and the war in a variety of ways that often contradicted official propaganda campaigns during Brazzaville’s time as the capital of Afrique Française Libre. Thus, her dissertation analyzes the international imagining of AFL through the simultaneous constructions of virtual and physical Brazzavilles. However, she also delves into how French efforts to reconstruct the city heavily influenced many aspects of daily life within the capital, ranging from food shortages, displacement, the increased policing of African bodies, and the development of multiple avenues of resistance among Africans.
This project dramatically re-centers the Second World War by following sources that emphasize the profound value of Brazzaville following the fall of France. Brazzaville is integral to understanding not only France’s progression in the war, but also the repercussions of decades of colonial neglect and forcing Africans to participate in a war effort that emphasized the hypocrisy of colonial rule. Furthermore, this project draws attention to a history of the Second World War in Africa that pushes beyond military recruitment or forced labor and considers the lived experiences of a population that felt the repercussions of this global conflict in their daily lives.