The House on Bayou Road: Atlantic Creole Networks in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Force, Pierre

This article discusses the coherence and relevance of the concept of "Atlantic creole" by examining the itineraries of two families, one white and one black, whose paths briefly crossed in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans in 1811. Through archival and genealogical research conducted in Louisiana, the southwest of France, Spain, and Cuba, the history of each family is reconstructed over the course of two centuries, with multiple crossings and re-crossings between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Matrimonial strategies and strategies of asset accumulation are examined carefully and compared over several generations, giving us a glimpse of how individual and group identities as well as one's positioning in the social hierarchy were constantly renegotiated. Some characters in each family are directly connected to major historical events: one fought on both sides of the Haitian Revolution; another was the editor of the first black daily in United States history. The study makes the case for the fundamental importance of family networks in Atlantic creole history. It also argues that the origin of Atlantic creole culture in coastal enclaves explains the coexistence of two opposite features: an unusual capacity for self-reinvention and a strong sense of local belonging.

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Also Published In

Journal of American History

More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Published Here
June 17, 2013