Rachel Jean-Baptiste Book Cover

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Manetti Shrem Museum

Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa

African Identities: Past and Present

How have people and societies debated what it means to claim mixed race/multiracial identity? How have these debates shaped global history, Africa, and the African diaspora? This book answers these questions by narrating the history of children, born to African women and European men, in French-speaking West Africa in the twentieth century period of French colonial rule. Their birth sparked debate in French society about the status of multiracial people, debates historians have termed 'the métis problem.' Drawing on extensive archival and oral history research, Rachel Jean-Baptiste centers claims by métis themselves to access French social and citizenship rights amidst the refusal by fathers to recognize their lineage, and in the context of changing African racial thought and practice. In this original history of race-making, belonging, and rights, Jean-Baptiste demonstrates the diverse ways in which métis individuals and collectives carved out visions of racial belonging as children and citizens in Africa, Europe, and internationally.

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