Rébecca Franco to defend her PhD thesis on 22 March 2023

Rébecca Franco will defend her PhD thesis “Between problematisation and invisibilisation: the regulation of interracialised intimacies and (post)colonial immigration in France (1954-1979)” on Friday, 22 March 2023, in the Auditorium of the Main Building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, starting at 15:45.

Rébecca’s dissertation addresses the question of how and why intimacies between the white French population and migrants from the (former) colonies on the African continent were regulated in the French metropole between 1954 and 1979, and how this contributed to the construction of racial boundaries of and within the French community.

During the period of this study, large groups of migrants from the (former) African continent moved to the French metropole, often to do low-paid menial work. Looking at the period of decolonisation and the early postcolonial context, this research demonstrates that the regulation of intimacy is a rich site of analysis to understand racialisation and the construction of racial boundaries of the (post)colonial national community. To this end, this research draws primarily on critical archival research conducted in written and audio-visual archives of state and non-state institutions, as well as interviews with individuals who lived in interracialised relationships during the period under study. By analysing these together, this study produces a critical analysis of the regulations and the construction of discourses about interracialised intimacies. By examining whether and how colonial continuities underlined the regulation of (post)colonial migration, this research helps to uncover racial rationalities underlying colourblind regulations.

The main findings of this research show that different forms of interracialised intimacies were problematised and regulated according to how they transgressed hierarchies of race, gender, class and sexuality within the sexual order. The problematisation of gender, sexuality and intimacy played an important role in the construction of racialised inassimilability of (post)colonial migrants. In particular, durable intimate relationships between white working-class women and African male labour migrants complicated the paradigm of temporary labour migration and the construction of the inassimilability of migrants from the African continent. This shows that the French administration accepted (post)colonial migrants for their cheap labour but did not include them in the French national community.

Therefore, this research contributes to a contextualised and historicised analysis of the construction of racial boundaries of the French community that determined inclusion and exclusion of these (post)colonial migrants.

Available here.


Andrea Tarchi to defend his PhD thesis on 24 February 2023

Andrea Tarchi will defend his PhD thesis “The regulation of “mixed” intimacies in Colonial Libya and the construction of Whiteness (1911-1942)” on Friday, February 24th 2023, at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, starting at 13:45.

His study is about the regulation of “mixed” intimacies between Italian settlers and people that fell under Italian colonial rule can clarify processes of racialization of subaltern social groups while pointing at the construction of Italian whiteness in the colonial environment. However, research on “mixed” intimacies during Italian colonialism has focused solely on the Eastern African colonial contexts, namely, how such relationships unfolded and were regulated in Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia during Italian colonial rule. With this research, I aim to add to this research landscape the context of the Italian colonization of Libya (1911-1942), to assess whether Italian colonial administrators regulated intimacies between Italians and Libyans and to ascertain whether these regulations played a role in the racialization of Libya and the identification of Italians as white. In order to do so, I deployed a socio-legal approach to the analysis of official archival sources collected in Italian state, Vatican, and Missionary congregations’ archives. Through such an analysis, the regulations of “mixed” intimacies collected in the archives are juxtaposed to the social changes that influenced and were influenced by the policing of intimacy in the Libyan colonial context. The main finding of this research is that Italian colonial administrators regulated “mixed” intimacies throughout their colonial presence in Libya to establish the category of “whiteness” on the settler population while racializing Libyans as Others. In particular, this research found that the racialization of the colonial Other through the regulation of “mixed” intimacies was a significant factor that allowed a modern, white, European subjectivity to emerge and represent itself as a signifier of Italian identity in the empire. Regulating “mixed” intimacies coincided with keeping control of categorization processes that affected both colonizing and colonized societies, therefore representing an untapped resource in understanding the historical production of racial categories in the Italian colonial context.

Available here.