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Lise-Ségolène Schreier
Fordham University (Bronx, NY 10458-9993)
The Gifting of African and South Asian Children in 18th- and 19th-Century France

Completion of a book-length study of the practice of giving African and South Asian children as gifts to affluent women in 18th- and 19th-century France.

This book project follows the changes in French textual and iconographic representations of dark-skinned children used as gifts, pets and fashion accessories over the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These texts and images often echoed actual cases of toddlers who were purchased or kidnapped in Senegal, Algeria, India, and the Ottoman Empire to be offered as travel souvenirs to upper-class French women. They also tell a troubling story about how the slave trade, its abolition, and the changing nature of the French Empire shaped French ideals of femininity between the 1780s and the end of the Belle Époque. Notably, these child-gifts and their fictional counterparts helped grant femininity a new political weight by using its traditional modes of beauty, charity, and maternity to link women to France’s increasingly global commercial and political presence.

Project fields:
Cultural History; French Literature; Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017