Call for Panel Participants, SFHS, March 24-27, 2022, Charlotte, NC

Kelly Brignac's picture
March 24, 2022 to March 27, 2022
North Carolina, United States
Subject Fields: 
French History / Studies, Slavery, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Atlantic History / Studies, African History / Studies

We (Kelly Brignac and Dierdre Lyons) are looking for a third panelist and chair for the SFHS meeting in Charlotte, NC, from March 24 to March 27, 2022. We propose a panel tentatively titled “Ending Slavery and Constructing Unfree Labor Regimes in the Post-Abolition French Empire.” The panel will explore definitions of freedom and freedom’s limits in French colonies across the empire after the 1848 abolition of slavery. After abolition, French colonists and former enslaved men and women sought to define freedom in different ways. Plantation owners sought to bind former enslaved men and women to their plantations to keep the plantation economy afloat. For example, vagabondage laws instituted work requirements for the formerly enslaved population and limited former captives’ ability to engage in subsistence production in the countryside. For their part, previously enslaved men and women sought to define freedom on their own terms. They sought to practice subsistence cultivation, to become rural landowners, or to pursue artisanal work in towns. In this panel, we propose to trace the contested nature of post-abolition struggles over work, land ownership, and circulation in French colonies. We have elected to take a comparative approach in order to highlight how these struggles took shape according to time and space within the empire in the nineteenth century. Panel papers will examine the “problem of freedom” in the Caribbean, the southwestern Indian Ocean, and potentially elsewhere, depending on the third panelist's area of expertise. By examining a variety of French colonies, we hope to probe the development of competing definitions of freedom in the era of abolition and emancipation.


We realize that it is difficult to plan travel during the pandemic. We hope to participate in the conference, whether it is virtual or in-person, depending on travel restrictions.


If you would like to participate in the panel, please send us an abstract, paper title, and CV by September 10.  Please email your proposals to:

Kelly Brignac, Assistant Professor of History at Colby College,

Dierdre Lyons, Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences, 2020-2022, The University of Chicago,

Contact Info: 

Kelly Brignac, Assistant Professor of History, Colby College

Contact Email: