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Mélanie Lamotte, French & Italian, Tulane University School of Liberal Arts

Mélanie Lamotte

Assistant Professor of French


University of Cambrigde, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), History, 2015
University of Cambrigde, Master’s Degree, Early Modern History, 2011
Université Paris IV-Sorbonne/University of Cambridge, Bachelor’s Degree, History, First Class Honors, 2009


Professor Mélanie Lamotte received a Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge in 2016, where she then became a Junior Research Fellow. In 2017, she joined the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Humanities Center of Stanford University as a postdoctoral Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in History. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of French and Italian, and the Africana Studies Program at Tulane.

Research Interests

Professor Lamotte is a historian of race, ethnicity and colonialism in the early modern period. Her work covers the French colonial world, with a focus on Louisiana, Guadeloupe (in the Caribbean), Senegal, Isle Bourbon (in the South-West Indian Ocean) and French India. She has written articles on color prejudice in the French Atlantic, race, métissage, and pan-imperial connections in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans (based on a digital project), the archives available to historians of French Louisiana, and the historiography of French Colonial History. Her monograph is entitled Making Race: Policy, Sex, and Social Order in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, c. 1608-1756. Currently under review, this book is the first pan-imperial study of the early modern French empire in the Anglo-American historiography. It focuses on the racialization of French colonial policies targeting the peoples of African, Amerindian, Malagasy, and South-Asian descent, and assesses their impact on social relations. She is now working on a new research project on the material lives of the enslaved in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Her research projects have been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom, the Library of Congress, the Center for History and Economics at Harvard and Cambridge, the Newton Trust, and the Humanities Research Center of the Australia National University.

Teaching Interests

Atlantic world/Indian Ocean history and literature (both transnational and French), with a focus on race, race relations, colonialism, slavery, gender, and the digital humanities.