My dissertation, tentatively titled “Birthing Imperial Citizens: Natal Politics in Martinique, 1840-1900,” examines motherhood and reproduction in the lead-up to and aftermath of emancipation in Martinique. Situated within bodies of feminist scholarship on reproduction, slavery, and emancipation, “Birthing Imperial Citizens” explores how French natal policy responded to emancipation—and how Martinican women, in turn, responded to these shifts. Using the concept of natal politics to analyze contests between women of African descent and colonial authorities for control over their reproductive capabilities, this dissertation’s overarching objective is to analyze how reproduction and motherhood shaped black Martinican women’s status as colonial subjects and their claims to citizenship in the post-emancipation French empire. I understand the intimate arena of the body and its functions as a crucial site for the articulation and practice of citizenship claims. “Birthing Imperial Citizens” anchors itself in this insight, examining how the realm of childbirth and motherhood was a contestatory space in which nineteenth-century Martinican women simultaneously realized and rejected normative visions of citizenship. Putting analyses of citizenship in conversation with the study of gender and post-emancipation political economy, this study creates avenues of inquiry into the intersections of gender and emerging forms of liberal capitalism in the nineteenth-century world.
In addition to my dissertation research, I am interested in the study of gender and incarceration in the nineteenth-century British Caribbean, particularly the use of hair cropping on incarcerated women.
My work has taken me to archives big and small in the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe. The bulk of my research centers on materials housed at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence and the Archives Départementales de la Martinique in Fort-de-France. In addition, I have research experience at the Saint Lucia National Archives, the British National Archives, the John Carter Brown Library, the Biblioteque National, the Archives de la France, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Pictured above: street sign for the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer.