A microhistorical inquiry into the life of Furcy, a man held in slavery in the French Indian Ocean colony of Île Bourbon (today Réunion), sheds light on shifting French policies and practices regarding race and slavery from the Old Regime to the general emancipation of 1848. The mobility of two enslaved domestic servants, Furcy and his mother Madeleine, who traveled between Bengal, Île Bourbon, Mauritius, and continental France, challenged French and British understandings of who could be legitimately held as slaves. Furcy's tenacious battle to win recognition of his freedom in multiple jurisdictions is a forgotten precursor to many international disputes over the juridical principle of Free Soil in the age of Emancipation.
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Freedom Papers Hidden in His Shoe
Navigating Emancipation across Imperial Boundaries
Dua, Jatin. 2019. Captured at sea: Piracy and protection in the Indian Ocean . Oakland, CA: University of California Press. Appel, Hannah. 2019. The licit life of capitalism . Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Sopranzetti, Claudio. 2018
Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits
The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reﬂection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.
Workers, Colonial Subjects, and the Affective Politics of French Romantic Socialism
Naomi J. Andrews
During the 1830s and 1840s, romantic socialists in France wrote about three subjugated groups in the French empire: metropolitan workers, slaves in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean colonies, and Algerian civilians. Although these three groups ostensibly shared similar conditions of deprivation and violent treatment at the hands of the French state, socialists depicted them in importantly different terms, with the effect of humanizing workers and slaves, while dehumanizing the Algerians suffering French conquest and colonization. This article explores these presentations and examines the way they worked together to champion the socialist priority, the emergent working classes of the July Monarchy, and to indirectly endorse the settler colonial project in Algeria.
Focusing ethnographically on the Creole festivals in Mauritius, this article examines coexisting cosmopolitan and localising processes in a non‐elite and rooted context. It outlines the marginalisation of Creoles in Mauritius before elucidating three processes evident in Afro‐Creole collective identification: cross‐continental inspiration from the ‘Creole world’ of the African diaspora; regional ethnic identification as Indian Ocean island Creoles with overlapping histories and shared cultural traditions; and the localising identity politics of differentiation of each ‘Creole culture’ as unique and rooted in a particular island or state.
A major intervention of mobility studies has been to suggest a new framework for the writing of history. Recent studies of diasporic Indian Ocean communities and trans-Pacific labor migration have shown that mobility history can open the door to histories of mobile subjects rather than static nations and, in the process, lead the way toward a transmodal and transnational research agenda. This article considers what the history of mobility has to offer to the modern history of transport and social life in the Japanese archipelago, which has most often been used to tell the story of the development of the modern Japanese nation-state.
Many aspects of culture that we are used to interpreting in essentialist or even tacitly evolutionist terms might better be seen as acts of self-conscious rejection, or as formed through a schizmogenetic process of mutual definition against the values of neighbouring societies. What have been called 'heroic societies', for instance, seem to have formed in conscious rejection of the values of urban civilizations of the Bronze Age. A consideration of the origins and early history of the Malagasy suggests a conscious rejection of the world of the Islamic ecumene of the Indian Ocean, effecting a social order that could justifiably be described as self-consciously anti-heroic.
William F.S. Miles
On 17 April 2008, at the age of ninety-four, the foremost Black French intellectual-cum-politician of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries passed away. Born in the northwestern fishing village of Basse Pointe on the southeastern Caribbean island of Martinique on 26 June 1913, Aimé Césaire rose from humble beginnings to become a giant in the annals of colonial and postcolonial francophone literature. As the holder of several elected offices, from city mayor of the capital of Martinique to representative in the National Assembly of France, he was also a significant political actor. He was largely responsible for the legislation that, following World War II, elevated four of France’s “Old Colonies” in the West Indies and Indian Ocean into full French states (départements). A dozen years later he founded a political party that would struggle to roll back the very assimilating, deculturalizing processes that statehood (départementalisation) unleashed.