Another Colonialism: Africa in the History of European Integration


  • Peo Hansen,

  • Stefan Jonsson

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    • Peo Hansen is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University ( Stefan Jonsson is Professor of Ethnic Studies at REMESO, Linköping University ( The authors would like to express their gratitude to the staff at the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence and to the journal's reviewers for their generous assistance.


Today's European Union was founded in a 1950s marked by its member states' involvement in numerous colonial conflicts and with the colonial question firmly entrenched on the European and international agenda. This notwithstanding, there is hardly any scholarly investigations to date that have examined colonialism's bearing on the historical project and process of European integration. In tackling this puzzle, the present article proceeds in two steps. First, it corroborates the claim that European integration not only is related to the history of colonialism but to no little extent determined by it. Second, it introduces a set of factors that explain why the relation between the EU and colonialism has been systematically neglected. Here the article seeks to identify the operations of a colonial epistemology that has facilitated a misrecognition of what postwar European integration was about. As the article argues, this epistemology has enabled colonialism's historical relation to the European integration project to remain undetected and has thus also reproduced within the present EU precisely those colonial or neo-colonial preconceptions that the European partner states, in official discourse and policy, falsely claim that they have abandoned.