This thesis examines the practical effects of resistance to colonialism through its focus on a case-study, the Hauka movement. The Hauka movement was a religious animist cult that began in the colonial context in Niger in 1925. During religious rituals, the Hauka mediums would become possessed by the Hauka spirits, which depicted European colonial figures ranging from generals and foot soldiers to doctors and truck drivers, thereby mimicking the colonisers. The mediums appropriated the power of the European coloniser and showed a sense of agency through this spirit possession. The Hauka movement traveled through West Africa and gained ground in the Gold Coast (presently known as Ghana), which was a British colony at that time. The research question is: “How did the Hauka movement, as a form of resistance to colonialism, effect the colonial discourse between 1925 and the 1980's in the Colony/Republic of Niger and the Gold Coast/Ghana and their respective metropoles?” This thesis therefore researches whether this form of resistance to colonialism influenced the dominant colonial discourse. It compares the reactions of the colonial administration and the citizens in the metropoles in the French and British cases to the Hauka movement. This research constitutes a critical discourse analysis on eight French primary sources (colonial governmental documents and newspaper articles which mention the Hauka movement) and eight British primary sources (newspapers which mention the Hauka movement or animism more generally). The findings were: (1) there were few primary sources which mentioned the Hauka movement, indicating that knowledge of the movement was not widespread in the metropoles; (2) when mentioned, the discourse surrounding the Hauka movement is mainly negative which shows that the dominant colonial discourse had a great influence in framing the ways in which African traditions were perceived and described; (3) colonial discourse was present in the primary sources and diminished around 1960 after the decolonisation of West Africa; (4) there was a nuanced difference in the colonial discourse in the French and British cases, stemming from the difference in colonial ruling. As an answer to the research question, this thesis argues that the Hauka movement did not have a profound critical effect on the colonial discourse. It shows that the dominant colonial discourse had an effect on the way in which resistance to colonialism was perceived. This research is innovative in its multi-disciplinary discussion of the colonial context of the Hauka movement. Furthermore, it is unique in its research on the practical effects to the dominant discourse of a form of resistance to colonialism. Within each colonial context, that if the colonisers and the colonized, the Hauka movement gains a different value and meaning and can therefore be seen as powerful, through its use of agency by the Hauka mediums, and as futile, through its lacking practical effect on the colonial discourse.

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Rosen Jacobsen, E.
Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Koenig, Emma. (2019, August 28). The Power and Futility of Resistance: An Examinations of the Hauka Movement in its Colonial Context. Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from