Camille AMAT (EHESS, Paris), “A Brooklyn State of Mind? The political and Cultural Construction of a Brooklyn Identity, 1814-1898”

My doctoral research focuses on the construction of a specific identity in Brooklyn between 1814 and 1898. While the historiography has considered Brooklyn’s consolidation with New York as an inevitable process, I am tackling the story from Brooklyn’s point of view, trying to understand not how it happened, but rather why it took so long to happen, and what kind of resistance mechanisms Brooklynites deployed over the century to build their own identity. It was nevertheless difficult for the elites and the administration to claim their position as the third largest American city, fourth largest producer of manufactured goods in the nation, and, most importantly, to prove it was a city in its own right when part of its power was dependent upon New York just across the East River. Over the century, in this context, building a local identity was a tool for civic ‘boosterism’ in order to encourage local development and to promote the image of an emergent powerful city. It eventually led to a representation of a strong and independent Brooklyn, with its own local characteristics, making New York a counter-example to avoid. While fighting against consolidation, Brooklyn’s elites also strove to create an alternative urban model able to face New York’s metropolization. Thus, the case of Brooklyn in its relationship with New York City provides a vantage point to analyze the different ways urban growth, massive immigration and territorial expansion were handled in the 19th century United States.

Alexia BLIN (EHESS, Paris), “Reading American Capitalism through the History of Cooperatives”

I offer to present my doctoral research on the history of cooperative organizations in the United States, and more specifically in the state of Wisconsin, between the 1870s and the 1930s. There are three main objectives. The first one is to reassess the importance of an original form of business, which was part of the economic experience of many Americans from Populism to the New Deal period, especially in rural areas. Second, I intend to study the relationships that cooperators established with more traditional corporations. Formed against the triumph of giant corporations such as the railroad companies in the Gilded Age, cooperatives were nonetheless influenced by the mainstream evolutions of American capitalism, and contributed to it. Finally, cooperatives were, from the early 20th c. on, used as a form of indirect government intervention, in the agricultural sector as well as in other spheres. Studying their contrasted uses is, therefore, an opportunity to get a better understanding of the complex interplay between state and markets in American public policy in those decades.


Sirine FARHAT (Université Paris 8), “The San Domingo refugees in Charleston, South Carolina 1791-1810”

“The San Domingo refugees in Charleston, South Carolina 1791-1810” deals with the exiles who arrived in the port of Charleston after the Haitian Revolution, a revolution made and led by the slaves of this French colony. One of the main goals of this research is to determine the number of French refugees who arrived on the shores of this American city, to know whether these refugees remained in Charleston, moved to other cities like New-Orleans which had a higher number of refugees, went back to San Domingo or even to France, but also to study the American foreign policy towards this nation – indeed San Domingo was considered at the beginning as a friend due to the help and support provided by France during the American War of Independence and as an enemy at the end of the 18th century because of the Quasi-war.

Throughout my dissertation, I will refer to all the archival documents used to know the approximate number of refugees who arrived and settled in Charleston and highlight the way the exiles were received by the inhabitants of this southern state and whether they were assimilated or rejected in this city that was totally different not only from their motherland but also from their colony in terms of language, religion etc. I will also examine the federal and state laws that were passed to help them stay in the United States or prevent them from doing so. These laws were certainly among the determinative factors behind the establishment or the departure of many exiles to more welcoming cities.


Karima DJENNANE (Université Paris 4-Sorbonne), “Muslim Women Activists in the United States: Challenges and Strategies”

In American religious history, the feminization of Protestant denominations – namely the full inclusion of women within the churches -, has been a long and gradual process. This feminization has been characterized by the increasing participation of women within religious institutions, not only as worshippers but also as religious leaders.

Although Islam is considered to be a newly transplanted minority religion in the United-States, there are indicators revealing that, like many other transplanted religions in the United States, such as Reform Judaïsm and Buddhism, Muslim religious institutions are undergoing a process of feminization.

These indicators include the emergence of a form of activism among Muslim women, more significantly since the 2001 New York attacks. While Muslim women activists claim visibility in the public sphere, they do, however, within the American-Islamic religious institutions. What are their demands, challenges and strategies? What are the internal and external factors that have led up to the growing visibility of women and women’s issues in American Islam? More specifically how has the increased role of women affected American-Islamic institutions, beliefs or practices? Those are some of the questions I raise in my research.