The familiar other: blackface performance in creole works from 1780s Saint-Domingue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter analyses an overlooked tradition of blackface performance that emerged in the French colony of Saint-Domingue in the 1780s. All extant references to blackface performance in Saint-Domingue are in relation to four locally-composed works set in the colony, including the popular Creole-language comedy, Jeannot et Thérèse. Whereas blackface in contemporary European works denoted alterity in something unfamiliar, it is argued that blackface in Saint-Domingue worked differently, denoting alterity in something familiar and potentially threatening. Local works undoubtedly brought new – and possibly sympathetic – black characters to the stage, but their representation in blackface insidiously enforced colonial notions of racial difference.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColonialism and Slavery in Performance
Subtitle of host publicationTheatre and the Eighteenth-Century French Caribbean
EditorsJeffrey Leichman, Karine Bénac-Giroux
Place of PublicationOxford/Liverpool
PublisherLiverpool University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781800857810
ISBN (Print)9781800348042
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021

Publication series

NameOxford University Studiees in the Enlightenment


  • Blackface
  • Saint-Domingue
  • Theatre
  • Creole comedy
  • Creole parody
  • Creole theatre


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