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

[TEXTE FRANÇAIS DISPONIBLE ICI.] 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.

About Université Sainte-Anne

Université Sainte-Anne, the only French language post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia, offers university and college-level courses as well as a French immersion program and customized training in French as a second language. Recognized for its excellent programs as well as its unique and exceptional living environment, Sainte-Anne offers experiential learning opportunities that promote student engagement and success, and an atmosphere which encourages a culture of excellence in research and development. Solidly established in its community, Université Sainte-Anne is a partner of choice for all those who wish to strengthen the vitality of the regions surrounding its 5 campuses as well as all of Acadie throughout Nova Scotia.

For more information

Rachelle LeBlanc, Director of Communications and Marketing
Université Sainte-Anne
Tel.: 902-769-2114 Extension 7222
rachelle.leblanc@usainteanne.ca

«La salle tendue de noir…» : la première commémoration du massacre de La Nouvelle-Orléans du 30 juillet 1866

«Nul doute que l’impression que cette cérémonie nous a laissée ne sortira jamais de notre mémoire et que nous en raconterons l’effet à nos petits enfants, afin qu’ils apprennent à bénir la mémoire de ceux qui moururent martyrs pour une cause juste et sainte.»

La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orléans, 30 juillet 1867
Livre disponible ici.

Même si la guerre de Sécession (1861-1865) a mis fin à l’esclavage, le combat pour l’égalité raciale était loin d’être accompli. C’est encore le cas aujourd’hui, d’ailleurs. En Louisiane, où des francophones de couleur furent à l’avant-garde du mouvement radical pendant la Reconstruction du Sud (1863-1877), l’un des incidents les plus meurtriers de cette période s’est produit le 30 juillet 1866 : lors d’une convention ayant pour objectif d’amender la constitution de l’État pour accorder le droit de vote aux Noirs, des éléments réactionnaires, dont des membres de la police, ont assassiné plus d’une quarantaine de personnes, surtout noires mais blanches aussi, des délégués ainsi que de simple citoyens. C’était une tentative, criminelle et concertée, de tuer dans l’œuf la transformation sociale qui s’imposait. J’ai souligné ailleurs le rôle du journal La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orléans lors de ces événements («De 1866 à nos jours: les racines francophones de Black Lives Matter», Le Devoir, 20 juillet 2016). Le contexte est présenté davantage dans mon livre Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana’s Radical Civil War-Era Newspapers: A Bilingual Edition (The Historic New Orleans Collection, 2020)

Image tirée de The Riot in New Orleans, by Theodore R. Davis: « Murdering Negroes in the Rear of Mechanics’ Institute »; Harper’s Weekly, 25 août 1866. The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1974.25.9.308 i–iv.

Le massacre de 1866 a beau accélérer la cause des droits civiques, grâce à la forte réaction qu’elle suscite, la communauté n’en est pas moins meurtrie, bouleversée. L’été suivant, une commémoration aura lieu sur les lieux mêmes du désastre, à savoir le Mechanics’ Institute, là où se dresse de nos jours le Roosevelet Hotel de La Nouvelle-Orléans. La Tribune en publiera un compte rendu. Nous reproduisons ci-dessous ce texte au complet. Un autre article des Carnets Nord/Sud présente le poème composé pour l’occasion et lu devant le public par Cora L. V. Daniels (Scott; 1840-1923).

La cérémonie au Mechanics’ Institute

La salle tendue de noir offrait un coup d’œil magnifique. À l’intérieur était un autel richement orné derrière lequel étaient figurées des larmes. On y lisait, en lettres argentées : ‘In Memory of the Victims of the 30th of July.’ Au centre de la salle était un catafalque portant la même inscription. À gauche se trouvait le drapeau de la nation, drapé de noir. Des colonnes en nombre de trente, placées entre les ouvertures s’élevaient jusqu’à l’arasement. À l’entrée flottait à la brise le drapeau, encore rouge de sang, qui avait été déployé le 30 juillet 1866.

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« In Memoriam—July 30 » by Cora L. V. Daniels (1840-1923), a poem read on the first anniversary of the Mechanics’ Institute massacre of 1866

Born in western New York state, Cora Lodencia Veronica Scott (1840-1923) gained fame while a teenager as a Spiritualist medium, supposedly communicating with the dead to transmit messages to the living. After a divorce from her husband, a well-known mesmerist, in 1859, she married a Union officer, Nathan W. Daniels, a captain in the Louisiana Native Guards, composed of black soldiers. (Daniels’s Civil War diary has been published by Clare Weaver under the title Thank God My Regiment an African One [LSU Press, 2000]). In New Orleans, she became involved in the post-war movement for racial equality. That movement, as noted elsewhere, was marked by the horrific Mechanics’ Institute massacre of July 30, 1866. On that day, when a state constitutional convention assembled to grant the vote to African Americans, more than 40 individuals, both delegates and innocent bystanders, were murdered in cold blood by defenders of white supremacy, including members of the police. The incident sparked national outrage. As highlighted in my book Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana’s Radical Civil War-Era Newspapers: A Bilingual Edition (2020), the New Orleans Tribune, founded by French-speaking Creole activists, led the charged in denouncing the reactionary forces behind the massacre. The paper later featured poems in memory of the victims, most notably Camille Naudin’s stirring « Ode aux martyrs » (July 30, 1867). Although most were written in French, Daniels composed one such poem in English. A year after the massacre, she was invited to read her elegy at a commemorative ceremony, described in the previous blog post. The text appeared in the Tribune the same day, as did Naudin’s poem. To my knowledge, it has not been republished since then. A final note: Daniels lost her husband and their daughter to yellow fever a few weeks later [1].

IN MEMORIAM — JULY 30
By Mrs. Cora L. V. Daniels
1866-1867

I
Toll, toll, toll!
Oh, ye solemn—sad’ning bells
We have need of mournful knells,
Need of penitence and tears—
Grief grows strong with length’ning years,
But no grief hath cause so strong—
No year of woe so drear—so long,
As that which brings us, pale with pain,
So weep at Death’s dark door again:
We weep because our tears are all in vain.
Woe, woe, woe!
They came not with the Harvest moon—
Death gathered them, alas, too soon.
They came not with the winter chill,
Our winter—grief—lingereth still.
The fair child spring hath come and gone,
And still we weep in woe alone.
Why did she leave her blossoms—fair?
The blighting breath of sin is there
And Death lurks in the pois’nous air.
Mourn, mourn, mourn!
Dark Erebus hath did their light
In Lethes’ stream—Death’s shadowy night.
Ye orphans—ye can only weep,
And widows pale your vigils keep.—
Ye children of a dusky race
Draw near, and in this sacred place
Pour all your offerings of grief;
These dead are yours—but find relief
In this—they died for your reprieve.
Toll, toll, toll!
Where wert thou Freedom, when they lay
In gory shrouds on that sad day,
When thy sons lay, for thy dear name,
Pierced to the heart? Foul murder came,
Companion’d by Hatred and scorn,
Clouding the sky that morn:
That dreadful morn—when Treason smiled,
With grim and ghastly smile beguiled
Our loved ones to a death so wild,
Woe, woe, woe!

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Sur les traces de Beausoleil en Louisiane : Entrevue avec les archéologues du Projet Nouvelle-Acadie

Les articles de La Filière Louisiane sont publiés grâce à un partenariat entre Astheure et Les Carnets Nord/Sud, blogue de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en études acadiennes et transnationales de l’Université Sainte-Anne. Cette série vise à faire mieux connaître les enjeux culturels de la Louisiane francophone et à favoriser le dialogue entre Acadiens et Louisianais.


Pour ce premier article de La Filière Louisiane, Clint Bruce s’est entretenu avec deux archéologues de l’Université de Louisiane à Lafayette au sujet de leurs efforts infatigables pour découvrir les vestiges de quelques-uns des tout premiers établissements acadiens en Louisiane. Le professeur Mark Rees et Amy Broussard, étudiante au doctorat, nous parlent du Projet Nouvelle-Acadie/New Acadia Project.

Cet échange a été traduit de l’anglais.

Lire la suite sur le site Web d’Astheure