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Jennifer Boittin

Jennifer Boittin

Associate Professor of French, Francophone Studies, History, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Jennifer Boittin

Professional Bio

Jennifer A. Boittin received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University. Her research and teaching look at how colonial spaces in West Africa, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and the French Caribbean were shaped by intersections between gender, race, class, sexuality, and urban culture around the world wars and decolonization. Her second book is entitled Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women’s Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952 (2022, University of Chicago Press). Undesirable tells the virtually unknown history of hundreds of women in Southeast Asia (French Indochina) and West Africa (AOF) tracked by authorities because they were traveling alone and claiming Frenchness. Drawn from Cambodian, French, and Senegalese archives, this book revolves around women of Southeast Asian, European, and West African origin, many poor and ill, who rejected patriarchal or racialized evaluations of them as “bad” to pursue mobility. Undesirable’s focus on how ordinary people react to being policed gives historical depth to pressing contemporary issues of migration and violence in France today and of similar reckonings roiling much of the Global North. Boittin’s first book, Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris (2010, University of Nebraska Press) is an innovative, intersectional history of radical interwar politics. She has also published extensively on the Nardal sisters, Lamine Senghor, Tiémoko Garan Kouyaté, Black anti-imperialism, masculinity, Black and African diaspora, Josephine Baker, and women travelers. She is the rising President of the Western Society of French History, associate editor of French Colonial History, and founding member on the editorial committee for Marronnages, les questions raciales au crible des sciences sociales.