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Three Catherines – two enslaved and one free woman of color – often shared a kitchen in an enslaver’s household in Nantes in the late 1740s. Their experiences of violence and fugitivity center this project’s aim to explore the dynamics of racial capitalism in metropolitan France in terms of gender and generation as well as race.  At least one of them arrived as a teenager with a baby in arms and they shared the enslaver’s household with enslaved children as well as his white children. They made their lives between intertwined transoceanic networks of black and white. The violence took the forms of both specific acts and of the pervasive brutality of slavery as a condition whether beatings, forced migration, family separation, detainment, sheer fact of ownership, denial of kinship, or nonconsensual assimilation or sexual assault. Their practices of fugitivity imagined other futures, shared care work for each other, and sought to repair the ruptures and fragmentation slavery imposed in ways that shaped the city. Nevertheless, their labor and reproductive bodies were commodified and recommodified by their enslavers and other allies like the French state to secure racial capitalism as the engine of the transoceanic French economy.

This seminar is co-hosted between IHR European History 1500-1800 seminar and IHR Modern French History seminar

All welcome: This event is free, but booking is required.

Please note that registration for this seminar will close 24 hours in advance. Details about how to join the seminar will be circulated via email to registered attendees on the morning of the schedule seminar session.