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  • Preface
  • Nathalie Dessens

My first volume as editor of French Colonial History attests to the continued vitality of our society. It includes articles by graduate students as well as established scholars working in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. Five articles emanate from papers delivered at the 2007 and 2008 conferences (in La Rochelle and Quebec), and three of them were not presented at any of the society's meetings, in keeping with a new policy that encourages members to submit articles for publication even when they are unable to attend the yearly conference. Although several excellent articles issued from papers presented at this year's San Francisco conference were ready for publication in this volume, they had to be moved to the next for lack of space. This surely means that French Colonial History is faring well.

North America is overrepresented in this volume, a quite unusual fact reflecting the core of the debates at the Quebec meeting. Louisiana is examined through three articles, two of them powerful echoes of the plight of New Orleans under the assaults of Hurricane Katrina, just after the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of its destructive attack on the city. While Marion Stange examines the issue of health and sanitization during the colonial era, Gordon Sayre guides our steps through a newly discovered manuscript map of eighteenth-century Louisiana by Le Page du Pratz. Departing from geographical and ecological considerations, Julien Vernet dwells on the protest movements against the federal government in the immediate postcolonial era.

Germaine Warkentin studies the recently uncovered Codex canadensis, a collection of drawings made by the Jesuit Louis Nicolas, revealing as much about [End Page vii] New France in the seventeenth century as about the perceptions Europeans had of the New World. Anne Marie Jonah writes a very stimulating study narrating and comparing the experiences of two métis women in eighteenth-century Île Royale, again bearing as much on what it meant to be a métis woman in this New World society as on how French authorities perceived métissage.

Adrian Muckle's article on New Caledonia, a far too rarely studied area of French colonization, also explores the way colonial policies revealed the conception the French had of their colonizing mission; a similar topic underlies David Harvey's questioning of the perception of Native Americans in pre-Enlightenment France, and, to some extent, Kathryn Edwards's examination of the crucial (and topical) aspect of the memorialization of colonization in France through the Georges Boudarel controversy.

Beyond a certain geographical consistency, this volume thus deals with matters specific to various French colonies at key moments in their history, while always remaining attentive to how much they reveal the French perception of colonization, and thus the specific features of French colonization.

In this first preface, I want to express my gratitude to Elizabeth Demers for her tutoring, and for all the work she had done on the articles before she handed over the editorship to me last June. I also want to thank the team at Michigan State University Press for their patience and extraordinary help and response to my numerous queries. Without them, the transition would have been much more difficult. My thanks also go to the authors, who never complained whenever I sent them their articles for one more set of revisions, and to the reviewers, who made their expertise readily available to French Colonial History. [End Page viii]



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