Emmanuelle Saada is Associate Professor and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Colubmia University (New York). At the intersection of history, sociology and law, Emmanuelle Saada’s research has mostly been devoted to the study of the formation of social identities and their related categories within the French modern empire (encompassing the 19th and 20th centuries). Her first book (Les enfants de la colonie. Les métis de l’empire français entre sujétion et citoyenneté, La Découverte, 2007, translated as Empire’s Children: Race, Filiation and Nationality in the French Colonies, University of Chicago Press, 2012) showed how the emergence of a métis population (the métis were the children of European fathers and indigenous mothers) within the French empire between the 1890s and the 1930s led to a reformulation of filiation, citizenship and their articulation. Since completing Empire’s Children, most of her research has pursued questions raised but left underdeveloped in this first work, principally the issue of cultural and political continuities and discontinuities within imperial spaces and colonial histories and the articulation of law and violence in French colonialism.
I propose to write a general history of the Code de l’indigénat that will analyze its production, implementation, and multiple effects in the French colonial empire of 19th and 20th centuries. The Code de l’indigénat was a penal code applicable only to the subjects of the French Empire – overwhelmingly the native populations of the colonies. It was instituted for the first time in Algeria in 1881 and then exported to most of the other territories of the Empire. The Code broke with principles of due process and contradicted the basic principles of French penal law affirmed during the Revolution. Conceived as a “practical way” to impose colonial order, it was also often denounced as a “legal mon-ster” by its contemporaries. My book will illuminate the interrelations between law and violence in the French colonial empire in the 19th and 20th centuries and contribute to a broader history of legal incapacities and the law of “exceptions” from broader rights regimes in the French empire. The book will stand at the intersection of the history of French colonial rule and the history of law, weaving intellectual and political history with the analysis of administrative and legal practices. It will show how the post-revolu-tionary French legal system, based on the universality of the “subject,” in the situation of colonial domination, delineated within itself a space “outside of law,” marked as “temporary” and “exceptional.”