Just Published: A Special Dossier on Francophone Louisiana in the Journal Québec Studies

Church Point (NS), 11 January 2021 – The most recent issue of the scholarly journal Québec Studies features a thematic dossier on the Francophonie in Louisiana, coordinated by Dr. Clint Bruce, Canada Research Chair in Acadian and Transnational Studies (CRÉAcT), and two of his colleagues, Dr. Nathan Rabalais, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Dr. Robin Anita White, from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The dossier brings together five groundbreaking studies under the indicative title, “Francophone Louisiana's Cultural Flows” (issue 70, fall/winter 2020).

This publication project stems from a symposium organized by the three professors in November 2018, in New Orleans, as part of the biennial conference of the American Council for Québec Studies (ACQS). The mission of this association encompasses, in fact, research on the entire North American francophone community. Multidisciplinary and bilingual, the journal Québec Studies is directed by Dr. Amy R. Ransom (Central Michigan University) and published under the auspices of the ACQS in partnership with Liverpool University Press in the United Kingdom.

As with the 2018 conference, the articles in this issue explore different and lesser-known aspects of Franco-Louisiana culture as shaped by interactions with other areas of the French-speaking world. Having been admitted to the United States in 1812, Louisiana has always been characterized by its ethnoracial diversity and by intercultural encounters. Though the future of the French language may seem uncertain, Francophone life continues to be nourished by a variety of influences.

“The notion of ‘cultural flows,' which was conceptualized by the Indian anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, refers to processes resulting from globalization and from which no society is insulated – including Louisiana in its French-speaking dimension,” says Professor Bruce. “In order to envision forms of cooperation with the francophone world, it is essential to understand these sociocultural dynamics, throughout history and at present.”

Such issues lie at the heart of the CRÉAcT's research program, which focuses on the Acadian diaspora, and inform initiatives by the Observatoire Nord/Sud (North/South Observatory), the center associated with the Chair, located at Université Sainte-Anne's Church Point campus. Both Dr. Rabalais and Dr. White are affiliated with the CRÉAcT.

The contributions represent various disciplines and span several eras, from the colonial period to the present day. The article by Dr. Angel Adams Parham, sociologist at Loyola University New Orleans, traces Creole community memory through the material legacy of masonry in New Orleans. Dr. Robin White highlights the symbolic significance of yellow fever epidemics as depicted in three nineteenth-century Franco-Louisianan novels. Considering the same period, Dr. Guillaume Pinson (Université Laval) analyzes the continental and transatlantic networks of the French-language press in Louisiana, which remained active until the early 1900s.

The Acadian diaspora is featured in the respective texts by Rachel Doherty (UL-Lafayette) and Dr. Clint Bruce. A doctoral student at Lafayette and former CRÉAcT intern (2017-18), Doherty questions the treatment—or rather the erasure—of racism in the poem Amédé by the renowned Nova Scotian writer Georgette LeBlanc, a work that reimagines the murder of a black musician during the Great Depression. From a different angle, Bruce's study examines the twinning of towns in Louisiana with Francophone municipalities in Atlantic Canada, a phenomenon that dates back to the early 1970s and which can serve to strengthen Acadian identity. His article shares the initial results of a project undertaken by the Observatoire Nord/Sud, “Cities Have a Family: A Survey of Municipal Twinnings in the Maritime Provinces.”

The publication of this dossier in Québec Studies illustrates the CRÉAcT's dynamism within Francophone studies as well as the growing role of Université Sainte-Anne as a center of excellence in research.

To learn more about the dossier “Francophone Louisiana's Cultural Flows,” please visit the website of the journal Québec Studies.

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