Building the Early-Modern French Empire

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 5:30pm
Gallier House Shop
1128 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
During the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries, the various European powers expanded across the Atlantic Ocean and built formidable empires. France's imperial power extended from Canada in Northern-North America, through the Great Lakes south to New Orleans and to the Caribbean. The Caribbean colonies were at the heart of this system. There, enslaved Africans in plantations produced sugar, coffee, and indigo that fueled the French and European economy. To advance their economic and geopolitical interests, the French had to build extensive imperial infrastructure: fortifications, ports, hospitals, roads, and more. It is in this context that New Orleans was established in the early eighteenth century to solidify French grip over this strategic post. In this lecture, Dr. Arad Gigi (University of Southern Mississippi), will present his research on how France constructed its military architecture in its New World colonies. The construction of colonial fortifications in particular was one of the most ambitious endeavors an early-modern empire could undertake. It required massive mobilization of labor, (free and enslaved, artisanal and unskilled), enormous financial investments, extensive logistic networks to procure and transport necessary construction materials across the seas, scientific inquiry to learn the New World geography and adapt the European building techniques, and effective coordination between imperial authorities and colonial elites. About the speaker: Arad Gigi (PhD, Florida State University, 2018) is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he teaches courses on European and Latin American history. He is an expert on the early-modern Atlantic world, where he is researching the formation, evolution, and function of the French Empire in the Caribbean. His work was supported by many research grants and awards, including a French Government's Bourse Chateaubriand, a John Carter Brown Fellowship, and grants from Florida State University. When he's not researching or teaching, Dr. Gigi is spending time outdoors, travelling, hiking, or going to the beach.

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