“Mapping the French Atlantic,” Colloquium with UVA Prof. and Democracy Initiative Co-Director Laurent Dubois


Making his second presentation in as many days, University of Virginia John L. Nau III Bicentennial Professor of the History & Principles of Democracy and Co-Director of UVA’s Democracy Initiative Laurent Dubois will give a colloquium presentation at the Kinder Institute on his new book project, which explores the history and conceptual configuration of the French Atlantic world. The talk is free and open to the public, and will be held on October 29 at 3:30pm in Jesse Hall 410. Click here for information on Prof. Dubois’ October 28 lecture on “Theatre & Revolution in Saint-Domingue.”


In this conversational presentation, I will discuss a new book project on the history of the French Atlantic and share some broad conceptual questions about how best to define and understand this configuration. While French governments, and cartographers, laid territorial claim to vast regions of the North American continent, settlement in the French Americas was concentrated in a few river regions—the St. Lawrence & the Mississippi in particular—and the Caribbean. What truly defined this configuration was a set of connections and exchanges that linked together Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and Africa in ways that co-transformed all of them over the course of several centuries. The question is how to understand this process, its many contemporary legacies and traces, which are often overlooked because they haven’t been incorporated into dominant understandings of national histories in all these regions.

Laurent Dubois is the John L. Nau III Bicentennial Professor of the History & Principles of Democracy at the University of Virginia, and Co-Director of the Democracy Initiative. From 2007, to 2020, he was a Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University, where he was Co-Director of the Haiti Laboratory from 2010-13 and founded and directed the Forum for Scholars and Publics from 2013 to 2020. He has written about the Age of Revolution in the Caribbean, with Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004) and A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (2004), which won four book prizes including the Frederick Douglass Prize. His 2012 Haiti: The Aftershocks of History was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also written about the politics of soccer, with Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (2010) and The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (2018). His work on the cultural history of music, The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (2016), was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Humanities Fellowship, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship. His most recent book is Freedom Roots: Histories from the Caribbean (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), co-authored with Richard Turits. His writings on music, history and sport have appeared in The Atlantic, The NationThe New RepublicThe New YorkerThe New York Times, Slate, and Sports Illustrated. He is currently beginning work on a history of the French Atlantic.