A Frenchwoman's Imperial Story: Madame Luce in by Rebecca Rogers

By Rebecca Rogers

Eugénie Luce used to be a French schoolteacher who fled her husband and deserted her relations, migrating to Algeria within the early 1830s. through the mid-1840s she had develop into an immense determine in debates round academic regulations, insisting that ladies have been a serious size of the French attempt to influence a fusion of the races. to assist this fusion, she based the 1st French college for Muslim women in Algiers in 1845, which thrived until eventually professionals bring to a halt her investment in 1861. At this element, she switched from instructing spelling, grammar, and stitching, to embroidery—an pastime that attracted the eye of trendy British feminists and gave her tuition a celebrated recognition for generations.

The portrait of this impressive girl unearths the function of girls and women within the imperial initiatives of the time and sheds gentle on why they've got disappeared from the ancient list seeing that then.

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Extra resources for A Frenchwoman's Imperial Story: Madame Luce in Nineteenth-Century Algeria

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But she also left a legacy in artisanal handicrafts that circulated widely across France, Great Britain, North America, and North Africa, thanks to universal and colonial exhibitions. Her grand­daughter Henriette Benaben continued the workshop Luce established in Algiers and actively worked to assemble collections of “oriental embroideries” that now lie in the storerooms of museums in Algiers, Paris, and London. These collections constitute, no doubt, the most permanent and highly gendered legacy of Madame Luce’s Arab-French school.

Influenced perhaps by the revolutionary effervescence that characterized the early years of the July Monarchy (1830–1848), she made the remarkable decision to abandon her husband and daughter, fleeing alone to Algeria in 1832. Chapter 2 puts this decision into historical perspective and describes the life that awaited a woman on her own in those early years of colonial conquest. Civil registers reveal that  Introduction Eugénie did more than just work and dream of founding a school for Muslim girls; she also encountered men and bore two illegitimate children, who both died as infants.

Her life story must be reconstituted from these snapshots, whose angles, colors, and sharpness of definition vary widely, leaving a great deal in the shadows. 10 I cannot bring back to life the “real” Madame Luce, but I can show her influence on colonial cultural politics, her talent at drawing attention to herself, the interpretations others offered of her life and works, and the legacy she left. In other words, sources can illuminate the role she played in shaping the French civilizing mission.

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