I am delighted to share the news that Joshua Cole's Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria (Cornell UP, 2019) has been awarded this year's Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize by the French Colonial Historical Society.
Announcing the winners of the French Colonial Historical Society Book Prizes
The Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize
Awarded for the best book published in 2019 on the French colonial experience from 1815 to the present
Winner: Joshua Cole, Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria (Cornell University Press, 2019).
Lethal Provocation is the definitive account of a defining event in French colonial history. For too long, the 1934 sectarian violence in French-ruled Constantine has been explained away as a manifestation of timeless and irreducible tensions between Algeria’s Jewish and Muslim populations. But in this magnificently researched and luminously written book, Joshua Cole places these events at the very heart of the modern history of Greater France. Moving seamlessly between a range of historical registers, Cole offers at once a history of religious life under French colonial rule, a portrait of socio-cultural change in a transforming colonial city, an analysis of the intersections of metropolitan and colonial politics in the 1930s, and a granular reconstruction of the events worthy of a great criminologist. Lethal Provocation will remain a classic in French colonial studies for decades to come.
Honorable Mention: Claire Edington, Beyond the Asylum: Mental Illness in French Colonial Vietnam (Cornell UP, 2019)
The Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize
Awarded for the best book published in 2019 on the French colonial experience from the sixteenth century to 1815.
Winner: Sophie White, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2019).
Sophie White’s Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana is the winner of this year’s Mary Alice and Philip Boucher prize. Voices of the Enslaved offers a major contribution to an emerging scholarship devoted to the recovery of subaltern and enslaved voices and experiences in the French Atlantic world. White’s innovative and creative use of court records as sources with which to capture the intimate and affective lives of Louisiana’s enslaved enriches and deepens our understanding of slavery at the level of the everyday. Careful reading of the fleeing and fragmented testimonies offered by the enslaved in these court cases, White argues, offers an opportunity to piece together what were effectively autobiographies offered by the enslaved. Ever attentive to the way the power structures shaped these testimonies, White nevertheless shows how enslaved men and women used the opportunity afforded by court testimony to tell their own stories and experiences in their own words, thereby allowing scholars a way to recover the lives of ordinary, unexceptional individuals who lived, loved, toiled, and pieced together families and relationships all under the yoke of slavery. Through meticulous analysis of the details and references offered by the enslaved in these testimonies and her deft skill in weaving together textual, visual, and material sources, White crafts a series of rich microhistories through which she retells the everyday experience of enslavement at the crossroads of the Caribbean, Atlantic, and American empires. Beautifully written, it is a tour de force of archival detective work, a vivid portrayal of power and resistance, and a moving reflection on the importance of amplifying unheard historical voices.
Honorable Mention: Céline Carayon, Eloquence Embodied: Nonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas (UNC Press/Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)