This thesis examines the service of African American soldiers during World War I in comparison with the service of French Colonial soldiers from Africa. This thesis argues that African Americans existed as colonial subjects of the American Empire and served as the colonial army of the United States just as soldiers from Africa did for France. The scope of this thesis covers ideologies of race in the United States and France, as well as racial policy and the implementation of racial hierarchy within the French and American armies during World War I. Through comparative analysis, this research reveals the relationship between white supremacy and imperialism in addition to the tensions between the statuses of citizen and subject for African Americans and Africans in the United States and the French Colonial Empire. By understanding white supremacy as a vehicle of imperialism, this thesis reveals that, though citizens in name, African American soldiers shared many of the same experiences as the Tirailleurs Sénégalais and colonial laborers from across France's African colonies. The United States and France shared a rhetoric and ideology of democracy, republicanism, and egalitarianism. Through Jim Crow laws and the indigénat code respectively, the United States and France drew clear distinctions between citizens and subjects within their societies, and each nation implemented a racial hierarchy within the ranks of its military. Building on the methods of internal colonialism and global imperialism, this thesis uses comparative analysis to place the United States within the broader context of western imperialism, similar to the other 'great powers' that subjugated non-white people around the globe.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Patsis, Matthew, "The Troupes Coloniales: A Comparative Analysis of African American and French Colonial Soldiers in the First World War" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 396.