D'Eichthal and Urbain's Lettres sur la race noire et la race blanche: race, gender, and reconciliation after Slave Emancipation

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


University of Nebraska Press


This article is a close reading of Gustave D'Eichthal and Ishmayl Urbain's Lettres sur la race noire et la race blanche (1839), written during the decade prior to the "second" French emancipation in 1848. The article argues that the hierarchical gendering of race described in the letters is reflective of metropolitan concerns about potential for social disorder accompanying slave emancipation in the French colonies. In arguing for social reconciliation through interracial marriage and its offspring, the symbolically charged figure of the mulatto, the authors deployed gendered and familial language to describe a stable post-emancipation society.