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AUP student taking a photo of the Seine during Orientation.

Center for Critical Democracy Studies

Presentation: Miranda Spieler with Cécile Vidal (EHESS) at CCDS

Q-609
Monday, November 14, 2022 - 18:15 to 20:00

On Monday, November 14th at 18h15, Miranda Spieler (AUP) will give a talk titled "The Rise and Fall of André Lucidor, an African Swordsman in Paris (c.1718-1771): Race, Sexual Deviance, and the Problem of Freedom in the Eighteenth Century Capital".

The event will take place in room Q-609 at 6 Rue du Colonel Combes. Cécile Vidal (EHESS) will provide comments. To attend the event please register using the sign-up form below. A description of Professor Spieler’s presentation can be found below:

This paper draws on police archives, court documents, parish records, and family correspondence to consider the life of André Lucidor, born in Ghana or modern-day Benin, who arrived in Paris as an enslaved orphan in the 1730s. When Lucidor died on the outskirts of Paris nearly forty years later, he was a dueling master, husband, homeowner, and the father of two girls who went on to become revolutionaries. The archival trail he left behind is the largest of any enslaved African to have lived in the pre-Revolutionary French capital. This paper explores Lucidor’s life in Paris by reflecting on the city at different levels of scale. First, it seeks to develop a textured understanding of freedom in Paris that is attentive to small and generally overlooked details of urban layout. Second, it seeks to understand Lucidor’s story on a global scale by exploring the city’s changing relationship to imperial slavery and the slave trade. Tenacious legends, rooted in the French imperial past, have turned Lucidor into a model immigrant; his life has been misread as a parable about seamless assimilation. The real Lucidor was a hunted man. He lived at the mercy of the police. His Paris was not a space of refuge—at least not in a conventional sense. For Lucidor and other marginal people in the city, zones of safety were ill-policed spaces of extralegality and outlawry. In developing a nuanced approach to his life, this paper explores how overlapping forms of otherness (relating to foreign origin, sexuality, poverty, and racial difference) shaped his experience of freedom in the capital.

 

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