Madeleine's Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France's Indian Ocean Colonies

TitleMadeleine's Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France's Indian Ocean Colonies
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPeabody, Sue
Number of Pages321
PublisherOxford University Press
CityOxford
Abstract

Based on meticulous archival work in France, England, and the Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius, Madeleine's Children traverses three revolutions as it charts a family's quest for freedom from the eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries.  The epic follows the enslavement of a young Bengali girl, Madeleine, her sale in metropolitan France, and the uncertain path toward freedom of Madeleine and her children – famously, her youngest child Furcy – on the Île Bourbon and the Île de France. Interweaving microhistorical methods, legal historical research, and comparative perspectives, this pathbreaking study sheds new light on the experience of bondage in the Indian Ocean and the shifting laws regulating slavery and race in France and its colonies. Following the archival trail and dissecting the legal arguments of Furcy and his sister Constance, Peabody unearths the efforts of Madeleine and her children to negotiate, define, and live freedom on their own terms.  

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