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

Mélanie Lamotte

Assistant Professor & Andrew W. Mellon Junior Professor of French


University of Cambridge, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), History, 2016
University of Cambridge, 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, and an Affiliate Position in the History Department. She is currently on research leave, conducting her research at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Research Interests

Mélanie Lamotte is a historian of race and colonialism in the early modern period. Her work focuses on the French colonial world, with a concentration on Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, French Louisiana, and Isle Bourbon, in the South-West Indian Ocean. The title of her monograph is 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, titled "Freedom in Chains: The Material Life of the Enslaved in the Early French Empire." She is also co-editing a collective volume with Pierre Singaravélou, titled Colonisation : Notre Histoire (Seuil, 2022). Professor Lamotte has written articles on color prejudice in the French Caribbean, transoceanic connections and the standardization of racial policies in the early French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the archives available to historians of French Louisiana, and the historiography of French Colonial History. In 2021, Prof. Lamotte was awarded a Tulane Recognition Award/ Andrew W. Mellon Junior Professorship. Her research projects have also been supported by the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom, the Library of Congress, the Center for History and Economics in Cambridge, the Newton Trust, the John Carter Brown Library and the Humanities Research Center of the Australia National University. Prof. Lamotte is also dedicated to the promotion of Public History through public talks and the media, having been involved in different projects, for example with the Sutton Trust Summer School and BBC Radio 4.

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.