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Products for Grant FA-55326-10

FA-55326-10
Trading Looks: Dress, Culture, and Racialization in French Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley, 1673-1769
Sophie White, University of Notre Dame

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-55326-10

Wild Frenchmen & Frenchified Indians: Race, Religion and Dress in Colonial Louisiana (Book)
Title: Wild Frenchmen & Frenchified Indians: Race, Religion and Dress in Colonial Louisiana
Author: Sophie White
Abstract: “Wild Frenchmen” investigates the process of racialization in Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley over the course of the French regime. In charting the shift from a conception of identity as malleable, to a formulation that was based in emerging proto-biological definitions of 'race,' my study privileges the question of “la françisation” (frenchification). This formal assimilationist policy had the objective of turning the Indians of French America into frenchified subjects of France: meaning Catholic, as well as culturally 'French.' As such, while historians have sometimes framed historical formulations of race in largely abstract intellectual terms, my research demonstrates that material culture-and specifically dress-was central to the elaboration of colonial discourses about ethnicity and race in French America. Material culture did not simply reflect difference but helped to produce it. My analysis thus offers a distinctive and innovative reading of the contours and the chronology of racialization. Focused on French-Indian interactions in the Mississippi Valley, in a colony at the intersection of New France and the Caribbean and bordered by English and Spanish colonies, my analysis has implications for the broader study of colonization in early America. For, if this book is foremost a study of one region, the methodological model offered is more ambitious, and aims to suggest that dress can profitably take center stage in the investigation of the negotiations that underpinned nascent colonial societies.
Year: 2012
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Type: Single author monograph

““Point de différence entre un sauvage chrétien et un blanc:” Conversion, Frenchification and Material Culture in the Illinois Country” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: ““Point de différence entre un sauvage chrétien et un blanc:” Conversion, Frenchification and Material Culture in the Illinois Country”
Author: Sophie White
Abstract: In trying to understand the racial turn in conceptions of ethnicity in French America, historians have analyzed language, legal and marital practices, religious discourse and other largely abstract intellectual frameworks. What they have not done is pay attention to the evidence from the couples’ daily lives. Rather than situate the debate about intermarriage in terms of intellectual and religious binaries, or positing a clear distinction between the views of Frenchmen in the colony and in France, I propose that we look instead to the material culture of intermarried households. For my analysis suggests that the tensions between supporters and opponents of intermarriage and métissage in Louisiana was primarily located in their degree of familiarity with the exceptional pattern of intermarriage in the Illinois Country, and the way that this was manifested through the frenchified bodies and dwellings emphasized in the locally produced records. The material culture expressions of these couples interfered with the seemingly inexorable rise of racialism in Louisiana, creating its own chronology, and highlighting the uneven development and fractured character of the process of racialization in North America. Or, to put it more compellingly: this evidence helps us grasp the implications of priests in the Illinois Country justifying intermarriage there by asserting, in 1732, that “there was no difference between a Christian sauvage and a White.”
Date: 4/8/2011
Conference Name: McGill University French Atlantic History Group Seminar

“No difference between a Christian Indian and a Frenchman:” Identity, Community and Material Culture (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “No difference between a Christian Indian and a Frenchman:” Identity, Community and Material Culture
Author: Sophie White
Abstract: The 1627 Charter of New France had held out the promise that Indian converts would “be considered natural Frenchmen,” ushering in a sequence of failed policies aimed at frenchifying (“franciser”) Indians. By the time the Illinois Country was settled in the late seventeenth century, the premise of frenchification—that identity was mutable—had been largely displaced by proto-racial beliefs. Yet it would be here that missionaries and officials began to claim that women converts married to Frenchmen, and their progeny, had achieved Frenchness. They married in the Church, had their children baptized, and eventually lived not in Indian villages, but within French colonial houses in segregated French settlements, wearing French dress. In other words, they presented visual and material evidence of having frenchified, with the result that local officials and missionaries granted them the legal rights of Frenchmen. Rather than interpreting this adoption of French material culture as assimilation into the colonial order, I propose instead a gendered analysis that showcases the persistence of indigenous beliefs, thereby illuminating the authority of this group of women to define community through material culture.
Date: 1/8/2012
Conference Name: American Historical Association

"Les Limites de l'inclusion: Femmes Amerindiennes et Africaines dans un couvent de la Nouvelle-Orleans (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: "Les Limites de l'inclusion: Femmes Amerindiennes et Africaines dans un couvent de la Nouvelle-Orleans
Author: Sophie White
Abstract: In 1751, the Ursuline nuns of New Orleans initiated a new member, Marie Turpin, who was born to a French father and an Illinois Indian convert mother. The new Sister Ste. Marthe was not been accorded the spiritual rank of a full choir nun but only that of a converse (or domestic) nun. This nuance raises questions about how the Ursulines understood race with respect to Indians in mid-18th century New Orleans, especially when juxtaposed with their response one year later to a violent attack by a Frenchman on the body of one of their female (African) slaves. Asked if they planned to make their own declaration against the accused soldier, the Ursulines stated that the members of the convent (Marie Turpin among them) wished in no way “to get involved in this affair, neither as accusers nor as defendants,” that on the contrary, they would rather their slave die than do anything against “the charity owed to” fellow French men and women. For both events, a key part of the evidence of the Ursulines’ views of Indian and African members of their communities was produced by the nuns themselves, allowing us to contextualize how women accustomed to writing biographies for every member of their order responded when required to describe female “others.”
Date: 5/31/2012
Conference Name: Institute on "Le français à la mesure d’un continent : un patrimoine en partage" (Laval University-Tulane University)

Wild Frenchmen & Frenchified Indians: Race, Religion and Dress in Colonial Louisiana (Book)
Title: Wild Frenchmen & Frenchified Indians: Race, Religion and Dress in Colonial Louisiana
Author: White, Sophie Kirsten
Year: 2012
Primary URL: http://www.worldcat.org/isbn//9780812223088
Primary URL Description: WorldCat entry
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780812223088


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