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Chaire Gutenberg - Véronique Dimier "Business, decolonization, development"

Véronique DIMIER    

Photo Véronique Dimier

V. Dimier is a political scientist teaching at the ULB. She has a Phd from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Grenoble and spent several years at Oxford University (St Antony’s College), as Deakin, Lavoisier and Marie Curie Fellow.  In 2006, she received a Fulbright fellowship (New York University). She recently was a Braudel fellow at the European University Institute in Firenze.  She has published numerous articles on colonial government, the mandate system, colonial citizenship. More specifically: Le gouvernement des colonies: regards croisés franco-britanniques PUB, 2004, which deals with the institutionnalisation of a science of colonial government in France and Britain and the effect of the mandate system on colonial government in both countries. The last ten year she has been working on the second career of colonial officials and their role in the European (EEC/EU) institution dealing with development assistance: The invention of a European development aid bureaucracy: recycling empire, Palgrave, 2014. She is now working on businesses, decolonization and development.


Current project: Business, decolonization, development

Many scholars have emphasised the continuity between colonial and post colonial states and politics. So far however few studies exist on the continuity of  businesses, i.e. the role played by companies of the former colonial states in the economy and development policies of the newly independant countries as well as in the economy and politics of the former colonial powers. Some scholars have analysed the role of these companies during colonization and  decolonization, but if they provide useful information on the way these compagnies adapted to the new context of the 1950s-1960s, they do not see how they could maintain their interest in the long run confronted with the changing elite of the African states and with the competition from companies of other countries. Also, the question we will ask will be: what strategies did the companies of France, Britain, Belgium (be private or state-own) adopt to maintain their influence in former French, British and Belgium colonies and/or what strategies did companies from other countries adopt to get new markets and opportunities in the newly independant states, especially in Africa. To answer this question, we will focus on networks between these companies, the elite in power in those states and the personnel of former colonial powers or other European states.



International collaboration

As part of the Gütenber Chaire, a Jean Monnet project was devised and submitted in 2015, in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth, the University of Kobe (Japan), the ULB and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Strasbourg.

This aim of this project is to analyse the origins (more specifically the colonial origins) of EU development policies (Member States as well as EU aid programs), their evolution over the last fifty years. Indeed these policies (particularly, the Cotonou agreement, formerly, Lomé and Yaoundé conventions) have been influenced by colonial practices, actors and ideas. They are an important aspect of EU integration and of EU identity in its external dimension. Because this identity was/is created in relation with others we will also deal with the beneficiaries of these policies (African states for example): how the latter considered these policies over time. We will also deal with other donors (Japan for example whose development policy was also influenced by its colonial past) but also most recent actors on the development area. Indeed, for the last 10 years, former colonized powers like Brazil, India and China developed their own development policy, especially in Africa. They present themselves as different form traditional donors: their policies would be less ‘colonial’, that is paternalistic, more based on South/South solidarity. Comparing their discourse and practices with those of former colonial powers involved in development is particularly interesting in that case.