Bordeaux may be known for its red wine and its historic architecture but before there was Black Paris there was Black Bordeaux. Beginning in the eighteenth century, Bordeaux was a site of migration, artisanal labor, and industrial expansion using enslaved and free black labor. Historian Lorelle Semley finds traces of these African and Caribbean women, men, and children in tattered documents, rare paintings, and in the very map of the city. Imagining this Black Bordeaux also allows us to rethink Black Paris and Black France beyond the music, art, and politics of the twentieth century.
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Lorelle D. Semley, Associate Professor, Department of History, College of the Holy Cross