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The Lingering Imperialism of the CFA franc in Francophone West Africa
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Class of 2021
Major:
Francophone Studies
Global Studies
Minor:
History

Grace Vensel '21 is double majoring in Global Studies and Francophone Studies, as well as minoring in History. She is particularly interested in the historical construction of imperialism and how it is manifested today. Grace is additionally interested in resistance to systems of power. Her experiences studying abroad in Bordeaux, France, as well as traveling to Dakar, Senegal with Dr. Eloise Brezault drove her desire to research the CFA franc in Senegal.

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Description

This research explores the social, political, and economic implications of the CFA franc currency in Francophone West Africa. The CFA franc has been used by Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Togo, and Guinea-Bissau since French colonialism. However, it was announced in December of 2019 that a new currency named the Eco will come to replace the CFA franc. This research focuses on West African resistance as responses to the CFA and the Eco currencies by engaging with literature written by West African intellectuals, current news reports from West African agencies, social media, and a West African historian named Dr. Ibra Sene. This resistance exposes the CFA franc as a neocolonial currency that resides in the “FrançAfrique,” or the sphere of French imperialism. In addition, contemporary backlash reveals that the Eco is not enough to completely sever imperial ties with France. However, a history of social resistance against the CFA franc and contemporary youth activism against the Eco indicates that France will not be able to revert back to its old ways of exploitation and control.