Elyssa Gage



Project title: Civilizing Codes: Administrating Justice in Haiti and Guadeloupe (1802-1835)

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    Ph.D., History, University of Florida – May 2020
    “‘A Softer and More Durable Glory’: Colonial Narratives of Justice in Guadeloupe, 1802-1830”

    2019, Dissertation Fellowship – College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
    2018, Digital Literacy Initiative Bursary – Social Science Research Council.
    2018, DHSI Scholarship – Digital Humanities Summer Institute.
    2018, William Shorrock Travel Award – French Colonial Historical Society.
    2018, Travel Award – College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
    2017, Doctoral Research Travel Award – University of Florida Graduate School.
    2017, Tedder Family Doctoral Fellowships in the Humanities – Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.
    2017, Center for European Studies Graduate Student Travel Award.
    2015, Dissertation Prospectus Development Fellowship – Social Science Research Council. 2015, Research Grant – University of Florida History Graduate Society.
    2015, Center for European Studies Graduate Student Travel Award.
    2014, Graduate School Fellowship – University of Florida (awarded through 2018).
    2012, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for Haitian Creole – University of Florida.

    Samford University
    Core Seminar: Memory of World War II (Fall 2021)
    Cultural Perspectives I (Fall 2021)
    Core Seminar: Nineteenth-Century France (Spring 2021)
    Core Seminar: The Age of Enlightenment (Fall 2020)

    Pepperdine University
    Western Heritage II (Summer 2020)

    University of Florida
    American History 1877-present, online (2019-2021)
    American History to 1877, online (Fall 2018)
    The French Revolution (Spring 2017)
    Atlantic Exchanges from Columbus to NATO (Summer 2016)

    This project will examine competing ideas and practices on law, empire, and governance through a comparative analysis of the criminal reforms and codifications undertaken in Guadeloupe and Haiti between 1800 and 1830. My dissertation examined the ideas and practices of justice in Guadeloupe focusing on the role of justice in the reestablishment of slavery and on the continued functioning of the slave system. This project will put that research in conversation with how Haiti, newly independent and post-emancipation, engaged with the same French colonial legal tradition and its continued influence. Codification, in particular, shaped the relationship of people to each other and to the state, but also of the local governments to the imperial and international sphere.

    The early nineteenth century is an oft-overlooked period in French colonial history as the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars left the colonial empire at its smallest and without the crown jewel that was Saint-Domingue. However, while new formal imperial ventures were rare, this period is important to the continuation and adaptation of the first colonial empire and to the development of an informal empire. This project seeks to examine these dynamics defining imperial governance from the perspective of judicial reforms and practices

    The Napoleonic Codes were critical intersection points, seen as a standard of modernized legal systems, and a marker of civilized nations. They were also an overreaching arm of French influence, incompatible with local circumstances and in both Haiti and Guadeloupe, many elites shared a resistance to the implementation of any version of French codes. The white Creoles in Guadeloupe feared the reforms, a push to unify the laws of the empire, would undermine their power and the slave system as a whole, particularly as debates over procedural reform often centered on whether magistrates from the colonies were capable of exercising their mandate as impartial judges. For their part, Haitian legislators sought to create new laws to replace those that bore the mark of France. They perceived the adoption of new French laws as a challenge to Haiti’s cultural, if not political, independence—a problem which continues to plague Haiti to this day

    “The Madman and the Monster: Discourses of Individual and Collective Absolution in Early Nineteenth-Century Guadeloupe,” Atlantic Studies, 2021.

    “Taking Haiti to the Court of Empire: Blanchet V. Boyer, 1826-1827,” Age of Revolutions, 2017.