West African Challenge to Empire examines the anticolonial war in the Volta and Bani region in 1915–16. It was the largest challenge that the French ever faced in their West African colonial empire, and one of the largest armed oppositions to colonialism anywhere in Africa. How such a movement could be organized in the face of European technological superiority despite the fact that this region is generally described as having consisted of rival villages and descent groups is a puzzle. In this jointly written book the two authors provide a detailed political and military history of this event based on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork. Using cultural and sociological analysis, it probes the origins of the movement, its internal organization, its strategy, and the reasons for its initial success and why it spread.
In 2001 the authors of West African Challenge to Empire were awarded the Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology by the Royal Anthropological Institute.