“Make Me Live Long Enough to See Such Things”: Citizenship, Labor, and Population Politics in the Nineteenth-Century French Caribbean
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This dissertation centers on Antillean women’s brushes with the French colonial state in nineteenth-century Martinique and Guadeloupe. It argues that while nineteenth-century French Caribbean of African descent women were, by and large, ignored by colonial authorities—unsurprisingly, considered less-than-citizens and, more surprisingly, seldom targeted for or involved in interventions aimed at ‘moral uplift’—they found myriad ways to enact citizenship and forms of belonging. Close analysis of women’s encounters with colonial power in the French Antilles reveals the ways in which gender shaped the contours of women’s political subjectivities. Anchored and intervening in the broad, overlapping fields of Caribbean history, French imperial history, women’s and gender history, and labor history, this dissertation examines subaltern women’s political praxis as they engaged in the realm of reproduction writ large in the midst of their work in both plantation labor and non-plantation waged labor. I argue that, through these engagements, women often offered visions of home and citizenship that transcended the commodifying logics of slavery, racial capitalism, and colonialism.
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