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This University Seminar focuses on the transnational material, intellectual and symbolic exchanges that have characterized the regions that once composed successive French empires since the seventeenth century.  The seminar will not be an exercise in colonial or imperial history, organized around the opposition between « center » and « periphery », but rather an exploration of connections and lines of fragmentation within that space. The goal of the seminar will be to explore not only France’s global expansion and retraction in the modern period, but, no less significantly, the after-lives of the French empire in various post-colonies, networks, and institutions. Our goal is to map a distinct—but not isolated—world within the “globe,” one conditioned but not defined by France, its empires, its language, and its ecumene. Inherently interdisciplinary, the seminar will bring together scholars in the humanities and the social sciences from Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa in order to understand these complex exchanges that reach « Beyond France ».

Professor Tabetha Ewing

Gregory Mann

Madeline Woker

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.


Meeting Schedule

10/25/2019 Maison Française, 2nd floor, Columbia University
12:30 PM
Freedoms to Circulate: Rethinking Borders and Belonging through West African Mobility
Julie Kleinman, Fordham University

Discussant: Joshua Schreier, Vassar College

11/08/2019 Maison Française, 2nd floor, Columbia University
12:30 PM
Perfect Property: Historical Memory, Infrastructure, and the Conditions of Recognition Between Nineteenth-Century Haiti and France
Winter Schneider, University of Pennsylvania

Discussant: Natasha Lightfoot, Columbia University

02/28/2020 Maison Française, 2nd floor, Columbia University
12:30 PM
CONFERENCE: New political economies of the French empire


A one-day conference, with participants including: Denis Cogneau (PSE); Muriam Haleh Davis (UC Santa Cruz); Elizabeth Heath (Baruch College); Simon Jackson (University of Birmingham); Mary Lewis (Harvard); Samir Saul (Université de Montréal); David Todd (King’s College London); Vanessa Ogle (Berkeley); Marlous Van Waijenburg (Michigan); Owen White (University of Delaware); Madeline Woker (Columbia University)

04/03/2020 Maison Française, 2nd floor, Columbia University
12:30 PM
Robespierre (and Guildenstern) are Dead: Revolutionary Colonial-Metropolitan Relations as Interlocking Narratives
Paul Friedland , Cornell University

Discussant: Charly Coleman, Columbia University