“Colonial Intimacies: Legislating Sex in French Louisiana,” 2003

“Sexuality could be used to construct and maintain boundaries between colonizer and colonized or, conversely, as the ultimate instrument of assimilation” (1)

Jennifer Spear analyzed the laws and interactions between the French colonizers and different racial groups which existed in the same area at the same time and discovered that there was a very different attitudes between the Frenchmen, natives, and Africans. Just like in Virginia, there was a scarcity of Frenchwomen who had come over (2).  As a result, in the colonization of Louisiana territory during the 16th century the French colonizers were engaging in métissage.  The colonial officials determined the value of the differing races based on the profitability.  The African slaves were deemed as unacceptable for the French colonists to intermarry or have sexual relations with because it interfered with production and humanized the slaves so the masters would want to free them, while sexual relations with the natives were viewed as beneficial and a way to assimilate into this new territory and obtain better trades. Unlike the Virginia colonization the French were more dependent on relations with the natives because they were going to be using their knowledge of the land and utilize it for trapping and fishing, while the natives in Virginia who were occupying the land the Virginia colonists needed in order to produce crops (3). Demonstrating the difference in racial struggle because dependent on what the economy of the dominate group, being the Europeans, needed also determined the value of your skin color.  

1 Jennifer M. Spear, “Colonial Intimacies: Legislating Sex in French Louisiana,” William and Mary Quarterly 60 (January 2003): 75-98.

2 Berkin, Carol , ed. “Women in Colonial and Revolutionary America.” Clio in the     Classroom . Ed. Margaret Crocco and Barbara Winslow. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 12. Print.

3 Bartram, Erin. “Lesson: The Colonization of New Spain and New France.” Reading, Hartford, September 9, 2016.


One thought on ““Colonial Intimacies: Legislating Sex in French Louisiana,” 2003

  1. Pingback: The Intersectionality of Oppression Introduction | The Intersectionality of Oppression

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