Jessica Namakkal /// On French Colonialism in India


When, in October 2021, we interviewed Priya Ange and Anita Kittery for our francophone show “Diasporas et Imaginaires des Luttes” about the Tamil diaspora from Puducherry or Tamil Nadu at large in France, we relied a lot on the work of Jessica Namakkal, who dedicated a book to “the making and unmaking of French India.” We are therefore happy to provide you with an anglophone conversation with her about French colonialism on the Indian Subcontinent. This is part of a broader effort to render the complexity to the Subcontinent’s recent history, which is usually depicted under the sole and uniform history of British colonialism.

Jessica Namakkal is associate professor of the practice in international comparative studies, gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, and history at Duke University. She is the author of the book Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French India, published by Columbia University Press is 2021. In addition, she is a member of the Radical History Review editorial collective, one of the co-editors of the Abusable Past, and a member of the South Asian American Digital Archive‚Äôs academic council.

French Colonialism In India Namakkal
Map of the four southern French colonies on the Indian subcontinent. / Map by Tim Stallmann. Courtesy of Jessica Namakkal.
Puducherry Namakkal
Map of the “Puducherry archipelago.” / Courtesy of Jessica Namakkal.
Thehindu 1952 Copy
Gathering against French colonialism on the Puducherry border. / Courtesy of Jessica Namakkal.