Vocabularies of Spatiality in French Colonial Urbanism: Some Covert Rationales of Street Names in Colonial Dakar, West Africa and Saigon, Indochina

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French colonialism, colonial urbanism, Dakar, Saigon, toponymic inscription, power in built space

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The study analyses toponymic practices in two colonial spaces on two continents. The colonial spaces, Dakar and Saigon, were capitals of the Federation of French West Africa and French Indochina, respectively. Toponymy is used as a tool to articulate socio-cultural and political power in both spaces; also, streets were christened after French military, politico-administrative and religious personalities. Two differences are noted. First, streets in colonial Saigon were named after French military heroes and clergymen, while streets in Dakar were named after French political luminaries. Second, post-colonial Saigon witnessed efforts to re-appropriate the city’s identity, but not so in Dakar.

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Journal of Asian and African Studies, v. 54, issue 8, p. 1109-1127