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Caribbean New Orleans

Cécile Vidal claims in Caribbean New Orleans : Empire, Race, and the Making of a Slave Society that it is more accurate to view eighteenth-century New Orleans as a Caribbean port city rather than as a North American as its late founding, its position within the French Empire and its connections with Saint-Domingue explain why the interplay of slavery and race profoundly shaped its society from the outset.

New Orleans. Foto © Michiel van Kempen

The Louisiana capital may be viewed as a test case to analyze the expansion of racial slavery from the Antilles to the surrounding mainland throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to examine the historical formation of a slave society within a port city located in the midst of a plantation region, and to reconsider what it meant for a society to become racialized by showing how race was woven into the fabric of everyday life. By probing such a case study, the book proposes to better take into account the variety of slave societies that developed in the Americas, including those in urban settings, and offers a fresh perspective on racial formation. It also contends that historians need to move away from a comparative history of racial slavery in the western hemisphere that contrasts the Caribbean and North America as two distinctive models. Instead, they should consider all American colonial and slave societies as parts of a continuum. Last but not least, Caribbean New Orleans situates early North American history on the periphery of Caribbean history and, as a result, contributes to a broader historiographical trend aimed at decentering North America.

Cécile Vidal is onderzoeksdirecteur van de EHESS. Zij werkt op het terrein van de sociale geschiedenis van de wereldrijken, de kolonisatie en de slavernij in de Atlantische wereld.


Cécile Vidal, Caribbean New Orleans : Empire, Race, and the Making of a Slave Society. Williamsburg & Chapel Hill, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture et University of North Carolina Press, [2019], 552 p.
ISBN : 978-1-4696-4518-6

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