Race, Filiation, and Citizenship in the French Colonies
Europe’s imperial projects were often predicated on a series of legal and scientific distinctions that were frequently challenged by the reality of social and sexual interactions between the colonized and the colonizers.When Emmanuelle Saada discovered a 1928 decree defining the status of persons of mixed parentage born in French Indochina—the métis—she found not only a remarkable artifact of colonial rule, but a legal bombshell that introduced race into French law for the first time. The decree was the culmination of a decades-long effort to resolve the “métis question”: the educational, social, and civil issues surrounding the mixed population. Operating at the intersection of history, anthropology, and law, Empire’s Children reveals the unacknowledged but central role of race in the definition of French nationality.
Through extensive archival work in both France and Vietnam, and a close reading of primary and secondary material from the Pacific islands and sub-Saharan and North Africa, Saada has created in Empire’s Children an original and compelling perspective on colonialism, law, race, and culture from the end of the nineteenth century until decolonization.
Chapter 1: An Imperial Question
Chapter 2: A Threat to the Colonial Order
Chapter 3: “Reclassifying” the Métis
Part II: The Law Takes Up the “Métis Question”
Chapter 4: Nationality and Citizenship in the Colonial Situation
Chapter 5: The Controversy over “Fraudulent Recognitions”
Chapter 6: Investigating Paternity in the Colonies
Chapter 7: Citizens by Virtue of Race
Part III: The Force of Law
Chapter 8: The Effects of Citizenship
Chapter 9: Identities under the Law
Chapter 10: French Nationality and Citizenship Reconsidered
“In this pathbreaking work of historical legal anthropology, Saada uses a vast array of primary sources to trace the deep racial logic of a new 1928 decree regulating the status of the métis, or person of mixed race, in Indochina. At a moment when much of the historiography of empire is focused on the crude violence of colonial rule, Empire's Children persuasively argues for the critical role of law in the exercise of power overseas.”