UCL European Institute


Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa - Prof. Rachel Jean-Baptiste (Stanford University)

05 December 2023, 6:15 pm–8:00 pm


In this talk, Rachel Jean-Baptiste (Stanford University) will explore the complexity of multiracial identities in Colonial French Africa.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Hélène Neveu Kringelbach


North-West Wing
Gower Street

Reserve a space

Book: Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa: Race, Childhood and Citizenship 

Drawing on archival and oral history research in Gabon, Republic of Congo, Senegal, and France, Professor Rachel Jean-Baptiste, a historian of 20th and 21st century French-speaking Central and West Africa, will investigate the fluctuating identities of métis.

Despite increasingly hardened visions of racial difference in colonial governance in French Africa after World War I, interracial sexual relationships persisted, resulting in the births of thousands of children. These children, mostly born to African women and European men, sparked significant debate in French society about the status of multiracial people, debates historians have termed 'the métis problem.' Drawing on extensive archival and oral history research in Gabon, Republic of Congo, Senegal, and France, Rachel Jean-Baptiste investigates the fluctuating identities of métis. Crucially, she centres claims by métis themselves to access French social and citizenship rights amidst the refusal by fathers to recognize their lineage, and in the context of changing African racial thought and practice. In this original history of race-making, belonging, and rights, Jean-Baptiste demonstrates the diverse ways in which métis individuals and collectives carved out visions of racial belonging as children and citizens in Africa, Europe, and internationally. 

A social and legal historian, Rachel Jean-Baptiste works on gender and sexuality in colonial West and Equatorial Africa. She is the author of two books, Multiracial Identities in Colonial French Africa: Race, Childhood and Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2023) and Conjugal Rights: Marriage, Sexuality, and Urban Life in Colonial Libreville, Gabon (Ohio University Press, 2014). She is the Co-President (through 2024) of the Coordinating Council for Women in History, an affiliate organization of the American Historical Association, sits on the Board of Directors (through 2025) of the African Studies Association, and is a member of the UK Editorial Collective, Gender and History.

This event is jointly organised by UCL European Institute, Professor Benedetta Rossi (UCL History), Associate Professor Ammara Maqsood (UCL Anthropology), Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach (UCL Anthropology) and the Centre of French and Francophone Research.

This event is part of the [Black Europe] Speaker Series, organised by the UCL European Institute. The series is part of our Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (2023-26) programme, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme European Union.