Les séances 2021-22 du séminaire « Peripheral Knowledges » auront lieu les :

-5 novembre 2021 (15h-17h) à distance avec Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec (Université de Sherbrooke), auteur en 2021 de Esclaves mais résistants. Dans le monde des annonces pour esclaves en fuite en Louisiane, Jamaïque, Caroline du Sud (1801-1815) et Ryan Hanley (University of Exeter), auteur en 2018 de Beyond Slavery and Abolition.

Inscription: https://u-paris.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwvce6hqzwrEtUmdJVExftN7bMJrNfMBEXg

-11 février 2022 (12h-14h) avec Camille Lefebvre (CNRS, IMAF) autrice en 2021 de Des pays au crépuscule. Le moment de l’occupation coloniale (Sahara-Sahel) et Daniel Folliard (LARCA, Université de Paris), auteur en 2020 de Combattre, punir, photographier. Empires coloniaux, 1890-1914.

-22 avril 2022 (12h-14h) avec Nadia Yala Kisukidi (Université Paris VIII) et Ali Meghji (University of Cambridge), auteur en 2020 de Decolonizing Sociology.



Slavery and Resistance 05.11.2021

Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec

Esclaves mais résistants. Dans le monde des annonces pour esclaves en fuite, États-Unis-Caraïbe

Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec a analysé plus de 4000 annonces d’esclaves en fuite en Louisiane, en Caroline du sud et en Jamaïque au début du XIXè siècle, durant la deuxième moitié de l’ère des Révolutions atlantiques. Il y a retrouvé la culture de résistance des femmes et des hommes esclavisés En quelques lignes, les annonces racontaient leur fuite du cadre esclavagiste et révélaient leur volonté de ne pas être des victimes. Puisant à l’histoire socioculturelle et aux études américaines, cet ouvrage propose de réévaluer un genre narratif – la petite annonce de fuite – et une forme de résistance – la fuite. Il répond à deux grandes questions : comment comprendre et évaluer ces milliers d’annonces qui faisaient état de l’absence, des ruses et des tactiques de personnes esclavisées mais choisissant la résistance ? Que signifiait pour elles l’acte de fuir ?


Ryan Hanley

Insurrection in Black and White: Slavery, Resistance, and British Radicalism during the ‘Peterloo Years’, 1815-1820

 Colonial slavery and the endemic, continuous resistance of the enslaved profoundly affected the evolution of domestic radicalism in early nineteenth-century Britain, though not always in the ways we might expect. Many, including several metropolitan black radicals, took inspiration from the rebellious enslaved in the West Indies and moved to rise in solidarity with them. Others sought to identify themselves explicitly in opposition to African ‘slaves’, encoding radical vocabularies of reform and entitlement in the language of whiteness and national inheritance. As Barbados burned and Britain teetered on the brink of revolution, metropolitan reformers were forced to choose a side in an increasingly bitter debate about what true ‘slavery’ was, and who best deserved a more perfect freedom. Using the infamous Peterloo massacre of 1819 – when thousands of peaceful protesters were attacked by armed cavalry in St Peter’s Square in Manchester – as a focal point, this paper will explore how Empire, race, and colonial resistance were reflected in the sharp edges of metropolitan popular politics. 

A horse, a horse, my garter for a horse! When Queen Victoria met Sultan Abdul Aziz, London, 1867 – Stéphanie Prévost

While fans of the PBS Victoria series fret about the possibility of a fourth season, conjectures are building up as to its contents, notably as season 3’s cliff-hanger ending foreshadows the tragic death of Prince Albert in December 1861 and Queen Victoria’s early widowhood. How much Victoria shall leap forward in the 1860s is also under discussion…

In the margins of the 1867 Reform Act, which was eventually to grant some representation to urban skilled artisans in British politics for the first time, lies a long overlooked, yet crucial moment of Victorian diplomacy. On 12 July, 1867, Britain was to welcome the first non-Christian head of state for an official State visit on her soil: Sultan Abdul Aziz, who had inherited the Ottoman throne but six years earlier. As the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Stanley, confided in Queen Victoria’s private secretary on 22 May, 1867: ‘This visit will be memorable as the first which any sovereign of the Turkish empire has ever paid to the capitals of the West. It may also have important political results. English influence is at present greater than that of any other power at Constantinople. To maintain it is important.’1To reach that objective, Britain – in the person of her Sovereign – was to offer the Sultan a magnificent and friendly welcome during his visit (12-23 July) – that is at least as lavish as Napoleon III’s welcome to Sultan Abdul Aziz during his French visit (29 June-10 July) on the occasion of the Paris Universal Exhibition. At stake, was also the award to Sultan Abdul Aziz of the Order of the Garter, the most senior and the oldest order of knighthood in Britain, which he made a requisite of his English visit.

The investiture of Sultan Abdul Aziz with the Order of the Garter onboard the Royal Yacht on 17 July, 1867 by Queen Victoria is now best remembered due to George Housman Thomas’s representations (1867), two of which are in the Royal Collections, and a third one is on display at Weston Park (Shropshire). Little do they say about the weeks-long drama preceding the award. Queen Victoria had demurred from the minute she heard of the Sultan’s visit in May: he had invited himself at the last minute, which, to her, forbade his having any grand expectations – especially receiving the Garter, which she alone could decide to give. Indeed, the Queen felt little inclined to welcoming him at all, and arguing that her ill-health forbade it, she sent her son Prince Edward to meet him at Dover. Her government, otherwise busy with the passing of the 2nd Reform Act, urged to avoid a diplomatic fallout. Yet, but two days before the ceremony, the Queen was still very hesitant as she ‘cannot help feeling the anomaly of bestowing a Xtian order on a Mussulman [sic]’.2 The Queen asked Lord Northcote, then Secretary of State, and Lord Stanley, to consider an acceptable alternative, which the Sultan eventually turned down as inadequate (according to the Ottoman honours system). In so doing, Queen Victoria had sought to restore a more classical/Western power dynamics in ceremonial gift-giving, whereby the giver freely has the choice of the gift. It nonetheless became clear that ‘the Sultan would consider himself slighted if he were given anything but the Garter’.3 The insignia had been conferred upon his predecessor, Sultan Abdulmecid I, by the British ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Canning, there at the Embassy in 1856. Besides, the British press had also announced in June 1867 that the honour was about to be given to the Czar by Queen Victoria. Eventually conceding that it might be difficult to shrink away from bestowing the Order of the Garter upon Sultan Abdul Aziz without jeopardizing Anglo-Ottoman relations, the Queen did consent to award ‘her Oriental Brother’ this mark of special distinction.4 As his English visit came to a close, the Sultan ‘expresse[d] himself as highly pleased with his whole reception in this country which he greatly prefers to that which he met with in Paris. But nothing has given him half as much pleasure as the receipt of the garter and especially the mode in which it was conferred’.5 The investiture reasserted – at least symbolically – the status of the Ottoman Sultan as a full-fledged member of the Concert of Europe – a status stipulated in the 1856 Paris treaty, which had put an end to the Crimean War.

According to Marcel Mauss, giving necessarily entails receiving and counter-giving. Diplomatic correspondence between the Ottoman ambassador in London and the British Foreign Office reveals that Sultan Abdul Aziz intended to reciprocate by giving Queen Victoria seven purebred Arabian horses, both as acknowledgement (as from equal to equal) and display of munificence. Gifting an Arabian horse to another head of state was part of a long-standing Ottoman tradition and a highly valued one. The gift was meant to be gender-neutral, but was not read in that way by the Queen, who was about to turn down the present for fear of overarching consequences. When disclosed at the Royal Academy in May 1867, Sir Edwin Landseer’s commissioned portrait Queen Victoria at Osborne (1865-1867) had raised suspicions about the true nature of the widowed Queen’s relationship with her Scottish servant, John Brown. The Sultan’s gift was thus conceived as an embarrassment by Victoria and her entourage, who believed that accepting it would cause rumours of impropriety to resume.

To ease relations and avoid a diplomatic break, Lord Stanley worked closely with the Ottoman ambassador in London to bring the view across to the Sultan that ‘horses [were] not appropriate for her use’, but that she was not refusing the gift proper.6 Four Arabian horses were given by the Sultan to her son Prince Edward instead and were eventually accepted in November 1867.

The visit is usually regarded as a success for both Britain and the Ottoman Empire, but actually gives to see two rather asymmetrical gift-giving systems in contact on British soil and at the risk of incommensurability (e.g. over the role the Garter performed). It also shows the agency of diplomatic intermediaries in bridging it, as they acted as intercultural brokers (especially the British Foreign Secretary, the British ambassador at Constantinople, the Ottoman ambassador to St James’ Court and former Grand Vizir Fuad Pasha, who accompanied Sultan Abdul Aziz to Europe and had been secretary at the London Embassy in 1840). Finally, the episode serves to remind us that the meaning of a gift, its value and acceptability is fluid and highly context-dependent.

Stéphanie Prévost

  1. Lord Stanley to General Grey, 23 May 1867, Royal Archives (RA), Windsor, VIC/MAIN/B23, f. 69. []
  2. In Widdall to Lord Stanley, 15 July 1867, RA, VIC/MAIN/H/1, f. 117. []
  3. Robert Wilson, The Life and Times of Queen Victoria, Volume 3, London : Cassell & Co., 1887, 294. []
  4. Grey to Stanley, 10 July 1867, RA, VIC/MAIN/H/1, f. 111. []
  5. In Derby to Grey, 20 July 1867, RA, VIC/MAIN/A/36, f. 5. []
  6. In Stanley to the Queen, 20 September 1867, RA, VIC/MAIN/H/1, f. 158. []

Race, Racism and the Color Line Peripheral Knowledges 16.04.2021

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Titre : Interrogating Love Across the Color Line in France and the American South

Cécile Coquet-Mokoko

This sociological study is grounded in personal experience in France (the author’s home country) and in an emblematic state of the Deep South of the USA. Its perspective is contemporary, but informed by an acute awareness of the history behind the legal Othering of Black-White interracial couples in both countries. By including metropolitan French society as a counterpoint, it seeks to de-center the U.S-centered viewpoint common to much of the literature on Black/White relations. 

Gendered perceptions of cultural authenticity and sexual ethics are a guiding thread, being inseparable from the historical and political contingencies (re-)defining acceptable forms of dating, marrying, and parenting among cis-heterosexual couples in each country.

Because the fieldwork was carried out between 2009 and 2018 among forty-three couples in two public universities in Alabama and metropolitan France, it could be expected to serve the foregone conclusion that France is more accepting of interracial couples than the Deep South. But the emic approach driving the study shows many unexpected parallels between the two societies.

The historical approach to race relations helps situate the politicized perceptions of the partners. Qualitative data show that within the structures of oppression built in each society, couples have consistently mobilized creative forms of agency as they seek to protect themselves and their children, while the support of extended or symbolic kinship networks help White partners acknowledge the existence of racial privilege.

The rising visibility of couples carving spaces for themselves against the White racial frame, re-negotiating cultural and racial allegiances on terms increasingly their own, calls for an increased attention to the overlapping of culture and race. Indeed there are many distinct Black cultures and ways of performing racial identities, with codes that vary, from safe spaces centered on small-group dynamics to public spaces where couples and families are under the public gaze.

“Diasporic Blackness and Modernity” – In conversation with Maboula Soumahoro (Associate Professor, Université de Tours), Deborah Thomas (Professor, University of Pennsylvania) – 13 nov 2020

Maboula Soumahoro is an Associate Professor in American Studies at Université de Tours. Formerly, a visiting Professor at Bard College (Bard Prison Initiative) and a visiting scholar at Columbia University, her work addresses political and religious movements in the Black Diaspora, namely the Nation of Islam and Rastafarianism, in the first half of the 20th century. In this talk, she will discuss her recent book Le Triangle et l’Hexagone: essai sur une identité noire (2020) to give a reflexive account of her trajectory as a working-class scholar of Ivoirian descent, racialized as Black and of her position on racism, anti-racism, identity and belonging
in contemporary France.

Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the former Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious journal American Anthropologist. Her several books, articles and films address race, postcolonialism, globalization and violence in Jamaica. Based on her latest book Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair (2019), in this presentation, she will analyze the subjective impact of politics and State violence in 20th and 21st century Jamaica so as to address post-colonialism,
imperialism as well as grassroots and party politics.


Marges, histoires et monde anglophone XVII-XXIe

Le carnet « Marges, histoire et monde anglophone XVIè-XXIè » constitue la face numérique de la traverse « Ecrire l’histoire depuis les marges-Paris Diderot » de l’UMR LARCA 8225 http://www.larca.univ-paris-diderot.fr/themes/ehdm/article/ehdm. Il est en partie l’héritier du carnet hdlm https://hdlm.hypotheses.org/ (associé à un projet ANR IDEX USPC 2013-2016) dont il reprend certaines thématiques. Le carnet hdlm sert actuellement essentiellement d’archive du projet IDEX qui portait uniquement sur les Africains-Américains. La traverse EHDLM-Diderot rassemble des chercheurs en littérature, arts visuels, histoire et civilisation, spécialistes de la Grande-Bretagne, des Etats-Unis comme des autres nations anglophones marquées par le passé colonial britannique. Le concept de marges se déclinera en réflexions sur des thématiques longtemps laissées en marge de l’historiographie et de l’histoire littéraire (race, couleur, esclavages et post-esclavages dans le monde anglophone, du XVIè au XXIè siècle), sur la question de la rencontre entre différents espaces, périphériques ou centraux (empires, globalisation, contacts entre les mondes occidentaux, orientaux, africain) et sur les pratiques alternatives d’écriture et de représentation de l’histoire (romans, séries et films historiques). Il s’agit donc de réunir autour de ces thématiques des spécialistes d’aires et de périodes différentes mais connectées, et de réfléchir, au-delà des cas d’étude, aux apports, divergences et renouvellements conceptuels et méthodologiques possibles, dans le cadre d’un travail délibérément transdisciplinaire. Les rédacteurs et rédactrices du carnet seront les responsables des différentes activités : séminaire interdisciplinaire collectif, pôle « Actualités des questions de race et de couleur dans le monde anglophone/ Historiens noirs des Amériques et de l’Afrique XIXè-XXIè siècles », pôle « Voix orientales (XVIè-long XIXè siècle), pôle « Roman, séries et film historique ». Cette traverse fédèrera 14 enseignants-chercheurs de l’UMR et maintiendra avec Paris 13 (partenaire originel du projet ANR IDEX associé au carnet hdlm) des relations privilégiées (une dizaine de collègues de cet établissement sont intéressées par la perspective de collaborations) ainsi qu’avec plusieurs collègues de Paris 3. Un partenariat extérieur existe, avec l’Université de Sherbrooke (un accord Erasmus + est en cours de signature) : certains collègues sont susceptibles d’utiliser également le carnet de recherche. Le carnet pourra également intéresser plusieurs collègues de l’Université de Douala, avec qui un partenariat est également susceptible d’être négocié. L’objectif de ce carnet est de rendre compte des différentes activités de la traverse : séminaire interdisciplinaire collectif, journées « Actualités des questions de race et de couleur dans le monde anglophone/ Historiens noirs des Amériques et de l’Afrique XIXè-XXIè siècles », pôle « Voix orientales (XVIè-long XIXè siècle), pôle « Roman, séries et film historique ». Au total plus d’une vingtaine de contributeurs réguliers, directs ou indirects au carnet de recherche sont envisagés au gré des projets et programmes de journées d’étude, colloques, comptes rendus de séminaires. Entièrement dédié à cette traverse et ses activités scientifiques, ce carnet se veut aussi une interface et pourra être consulté aussi par les participants extérieurs aux activités (chercheurs et chercheuses inscrites aux journées et colloques etc.).