Settlers, savages, and slaves: assimilation, racialism, and the civilizing mission in French Colonial Louisiana Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Harris, Jeffrey Ryan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • French-Amerindian interaction in the Louisiana colony forced French people to define what French identity was and who could be included in it. Some colonists believed that non-Europeans were assimilable and could--if properly educated and Christianized--become French like them. Others believed that non-Europeans were inferior and could corrupt French civilization if not kept in their place. Although the racialist perspective eventually prevailed in mid-eighteenth-century Louisiana, the Louisiana colony represented the continuity of earlier French fantasies of assimilating Indians, as well as the deeper history of racist pseudoscience. The debate in Louisiana between Catholic assimilationists and racial essentialists presaged the later tension throughout the French empire between the French Revolution's republican universalism and nineteenth-century pseudoscientific racism. The race debate in eighteenth-century Louisiana illuminates the Old Regime origins of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French colonial ideology and the global influence of the French colonial experience in the Gulf South.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Kramer, Lloyd
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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