UM Visiting Professor Publishes Book on African Political Activism

September 10, 2018

UM visiting Professor Gillian Glaes recently published a book on immigration, surveillance, social welfare and colonialism. MISSOULA – A University of Montana visiting professor and alumna explores the intersection of immigration, surveillance, social welfare and the legacy of colonialism – as well as lessons for today’s immigration situation – in her recently published book.

Dr. Gillian Glaes published “African Political Activism in Postcolonial France: State Surveillance and Social Welfare” with Routledge Press. The book focuses on the political lives of African immigrants in France during the 1960s and ’70s and relates to contemporary issues such as national identity and race. It is available for purchase online at

In her book, Glaes finds that African immigrants took an active role in protesting the challenging conditions in which they found themselves through using associations, rent strikes, riots and the deaths of five of their contemporaries to attract attention to their plight.

Community leaders such as Sally N’Dongo became prominent political figures within France’s postcolonial social, political and media landscapes. He and his fellow immigrants’ stories suggest that immigrants had and have the power to influence public discourse and shape public policy. For example, during the Cold War, the French state not only monitored and watched these and other immigrant groups, but also created social welfare programs, including a medical clinic designed to assist and control them.

While set in the recent past, this book provides important commentary on how immigrant communities contribute to host societies in diverse ways and the power of public policy to assist or challenge them. It has much to tell about the politics of immigration today in Europe, the U.S. and throughout the world.

“My hope is that the research and findings from my book can provide some valuable lessons and perspective for today’s discussions and proposed legislation on immigration,” Glaes said. “Understanding both the African and the French reaction during the 1960s and 1970s provides some interesting insights that apply to the U.S. and the world today.

“In a moment where the U.S. federal government is separating immigrants’ families and discussions persist of border walls in the U.S. and apartheid in France, it’s important for us to not repeat mistakes of the past and to learn from other countries while reflecting on our own history of immigration and what our current and future paths will be.”

Glaes teaches courses in history and African-American studies and for the Franke Global Leadership Initiative at UM. She received her undergraduate degree from UM, a master’s degree at the University of Oregon and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has lived throughout the United States, France and Denmark, and she previously taught as an associate professor of history and department chair at Carroll College in Helena.


Contact: Gillian Glaes, UM visiting associate professor in history, African-American studies and the Franke Global Leadership Initiative, 406-546-8966,