Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages

Degree Program

French, MA

Committee Chair

Fonseca-Greber, Bonnie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Buckley, David

Committee Member

Buckley, David

Committee Member

Payne, Rodger

Committee Member

Dalle, Matthieu

Author's Keywords

Casamance; Senegal; Un-imagining; Imagining; Nationalism; Identity


The Casamance conflict in the southern region of Senegal started in 1982, when protestors rallying after the MFDC pulled down the Senegalese flag from public buildings in Ziguinchor calling for independence of the Casamance region. The movement based its claim for an independent Casamance on the different colonial history that distinguished it from the rest of Senegal. Surprisingly, it was not until later in the development of the movement that ethnic, linguistic, religious, and regional differences between the two regions came to factor into the MFDC’s platform. This thesis then seeks to examine why and when these dimensions come to be part of the movement’s rationale. In particular, it argues that the Casamançais identity has not always existed as such, it has rather been imagined into a political identity seeking independence by the MFDC. the MFDC imagined this politicized Casamançais identity that gave it legitimacy, it is un-imagining it today by maintaining favorable ties with the Dakar-based government, relying on external support from the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, and exploiting the very Casamançais population on behalf of which it claims to fight. The thesis assesses biases in news articles and examines comments of individuals published on Senegalese and Casamançais online newspapers to show evidence of un-imagining.