From colonization to national territories in continental West Africa: the historical geography of a transport infrastructure network

This paper argues that in order to study the geohistory of a transport infrastructure network it is necessary to identify the link between networks and territorial scales during a given period. It focuses on the creation of road and rail networks in French West Africa during the colonial period and in the land-locked States during the national period, which involves post-independence development policies. The network is perceived in this paper as the manifestation of the political will to facilitate traffic within a delimited space. Within the colonial and then the national periods roads and railways were thus constructed as part of a process that can be interpreted as the outcome of a compromise between a territorial project and the capacity to implement it. This geohistorical study thus allows us to identify, with reference to the link between borders and networks, the successive geographical linkages (railway and port combinations with their subsequent branches, national roads, economic roads, external connections) which have been applied in the delimited spaces in question. This exercise has concentrated particularly on continental West Africa.


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  • Accession Number: 01152018
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2010 11:14AM