Title page for ETD etd-06052012-121236

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bombard, Jessica
URN etd-06052012-121236
Title Le Nègre Blanc de Bel Air: la Construction d'une Identité Hybride Réunionnaise.
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Peters, Rosemary Committee Chair
Jensen, Kate Committee Member
Yeager, Jay Committee Member
  • identity
  • Reunion Island
  • métissage
  • hybridity
  • Jean-François Samlong
Date of Defense 2012-05-08
Availability unrestricted
Reunion Island and its literature both reflect a unique world of métissage unveiling a hybrid culture and population. Through centuries, Reunionese authors have used their writings as a means to portray the reality of their complex métisse society. Uninhabited until the seventeenth century, Reunion became a focal point for many nations and peoples who brought their own cultures and traditions. Such diversity, linked to the economic needs of the colony, led to the creation of a new creole language along with a new culture. In the novel Le Nègre Blanc de Bel Air, the Reunionese author Jean-François Samlong focuses on the problems of a hybrid identity through his depiction of the events of December 20th, 1848, a key date in the island’s history as it represents the official end of slavery. Based on Samlong’s novel, this thesis addresses the construction of a Reunionese hybrid identity. Using Claire de Duras’ novel Ourika and Alexandre Dumas’ work Georges, along with Le Nègre Blanc, the first chapter examines education as a process leading to the development of a confused and antagonist identity. Thus, the individual becomes a composite of knowledge, traditions and cultures. Such a mixing does not allow him (her), to belong to a specific class as (s)he represents a new type of individual: the hybrid. Therefore, the second chapter emphasizes La Reunion’s hybridity and confused identity. Samlong uses his novel’s protagonist, Songol, as a symbol of the island’s hybridity and métissage in order to highlights the contemporary problems of the Reunionese.
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