Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Cultural Studies, PhD
School of Arts and Humanities
Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member
Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© 2020 Danae M Hart
counterstory, Creole, Cultural Studies, Louisiana, New Orleans, resistance
African American Studies | Ethnic Studies
Creole identity within Louisiana emerged as a result of French colonization and as a means of classification denoting birthplace but developed into a cultural identity specific to the lived experience of residents of Louisiana. An often-overlooked aspect of Creole identity is its role within the formation of activist networks and resistance within the American South. Resistance is inherent in the formation of Creole identity because it complicates racial politics that are predicated on reductionist singular conceptions of racial and ethnic identity. An understanding of Creole identity as a challenge to the racial binary imposed within Louisiana illuminates the larger legacies of colonialism, slavery, and systems of inequality within society. Creole identity exists as a result of colonization and was an identity formation formed to cope with the traumatic experiences of living under enslavement, colonization, and systemic racism. A unique culture developed as a survival strategy and aided in the creation of methods of resistance to hegemonic institutions upholding white supremacy. Creole identity is often merely reduced to a form of blackness because of the constructed Black and white divide within the U.S. South, but Creole identity has both been associated with blackness and had access to the privileges of whiteness, creating a hybrid identity formation. Strategically Creoles have utilized their complex racial formation to mount resistance to dominant ideologies through their identification with both Black and white identity. Often the historical role Creole identity played within social movements has been overlooked. Since Louisiana was colonized by the French, Creole people have mounted resistance against colonial power, and their activism evolved as the systems of oppression took on new forms. Creole identity was inextricably tied to French colonialism as well as the French language, but as France ceded control of the Louisiana territory Creole identity evolved beyond an identification with French culture into a shared culture built upon lived experiences of oppression. From colonialism to slavery and beyond, Creole resistance has persisted. I have constructed a radical genealogy to highlight the evolution of Creole identity through the use of counterstories. Creoles mounted resistance to systemic oppression during colonization, enslavement, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, resistance that continues to the present day. Resistance has taken on the form of solidarity networks, print publications, social clubs, spiritual belief systems, and social media communities in order to evolve in addressing the needs of Creole communities. Creole resistance against racial segregation has often been dismissed as seen in Cheryl Harris’ pivotal work “Whiteness as Property,” as an act of conformity and an attempt to benefit from the privileges of whiteness, but Creole activism intentionally deconstructed arguments perpetuating racial segregation through challenging constructions of race and white supremacy. From Plessy v. Ferguson to online collectives today Creole identity strategically protested racial inequality by disrupting understandings of race and embracing a more complex view on racial identity. Creole identity has historically evolved from a racial category to a hybrid cultural formation used by activists to challenge reductionist constructions of race in order to develop a consciousness that forwards activist efforts to achieve racial equality in an intersectional and inclusive manner.
Hart, Danae Marie. (2020). Creole Resistance in Louisiana from Colonization to Black Lives Matter: Activism’s Deep-Rooted Role in Creole Identity. CGU Theses & Dissertations, 426. https://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgu_etd/426.