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Virtual Events

Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women’s Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952

Hybrid: Zoom/Q-609
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 18:30 to 21:00

This presentation will share elements of Jennifer Anne Boittin’s forthcoming book, Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women’s Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952 (2022, University of Chicago Press, in production). The focus will be a central feature of the book, namely the role played by emotions in the migrations and circulations, policing of, and most importantly defiance of policing, surveillance, and legal controls by women in the French empire (specifically French West Africa and French Indochina). Drawn from Cambodian, French, and Senegalese archives, the book revolves around women of Southeast Asian, European, and West African origin, many poor and ill, who rejected patriarchal or racialized evaluations of them as “bad.” Using police and security records to center women’s voices within an imperial history of opposition, this talk will present a few case studies and reflect upon some of the ways historians can write imperial stories about those who have left fewer traces in the historical record. The particular focus will be the value of analyzing historical sources via the lens of affect, or emotion, for the links they reveal between passion and migration.

Jennifer Anne Boittin is an associate professor of French, Francophone Studies and History at the Pennsylvania State University. Her first book, Colonial Metropolis. The Urban Grounds of Anti-imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris (2010, University of Nebraska Press) is an innovative, intersectional history of radical interwar politics. Her current project, about female travelers in the French empire, is entitled Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women’s Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952. She was a resident fellow at the Institut des Etudes Avancées in Paris during the 2016-2017 academic year.

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