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Imperial Burdens: Countercolonialism in Former French India

William F.S. Miles
Imperial Burdens: Countercolonialism in Former French India
ISBN: 978-1-55587-511-4
1995/216 pages/LC: 93-50213

"...[an] interesting and well-presented study..."—Michael McIntyre, The Journal of Asian Studies


Few people are aware that, throughout the British raj, France managed to retain a foothold in parts of India. French India survived for a full fifteen years after the Union Jack was lowered in Delhi, and as a result of French colonization, there remain today, scattered throughout the Union Territory of Pondicherry, thousands of ethnic Indians who still possess French citizenship. The ensuing complications run the gamut from education to economics, from Nationality to neocolonialism, from politics to procreation.

In this first book to explore the modern-day legacy of French colonialism in India, Miles takes a unique look at one of the country's most fascinating political subcultures. He comes to the unorthodox conclusion that a defective process of decolonization, as was France's in India, can create a countercolonial relationship that inordinately benefits the former colonized vis-à-vis the former colonizers, with problematic consequences for both.


William F.S. Miles is professor of political science at Northeastern University. He is author of Elections in Nigeria: A Grassroots Perspective (Rienner 1988), Hausaland Divided: Colonialism and Independence in Nigeria and Niger, De la Politique á la Martinique: Paradoxe au Paradis, and Elections and Ethnicity in French Martinique: A Paradox in Paradise.


  • Introduction.
  • French Indians and the Franco-Tamilian Community.
  • The Nationality Nub.
  • The Merger Movement., Politics: Pondicherry and Pondichéry.
  • Education and Language.
  • The Economic Burden.
  • Presence of the Metropolitan French.
  • Outside Pondichéry: Double Marginalization.
  • French India in Comparative Light.