Christophe Landry (Sussex) on a research trip to South Louisiana

My doctoral thesis, ‘Multilingualism and Language Politics in Post-War Creole Louisiana’, studies the rapid integration of multilingual, Roman Catholic, Latin Southwest Louisiana in the 20th century’s interwar period. More specifically, it traces how French- and Creole-speaking Latins, in this zone, were absorbed into national consciousness through Jim Crowism, Anglicization, Protestantization and infrastructural projects, culminating in a faux-bifurcation of these Creoles along hardened racial lines, of which Cajunism is a product.

View of building: Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana
Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana

Indeed, all successful doctoral projects rely heavily on mining through volumes of primary resources. This research process can prove challenging, in particular when repositories of primary information are located in other countries. For this reason, the Society for the Study of Labour History’s travel bursary has been of immense importance. The bursary subsidized travel to South Louisiana from the United Kingdom, but also provided support for living expenses, obtaining documentation and meals, which exceeded £1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.

Thanks to the bursary, I was able to spend seven full research weeks in Lafayette, New Iberia and St. Martinville, Louisiana, where much of my research was conducted at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, the clerks of court offices for Iberia and St. Martin Parishes, respectively, and the Caffery Special Collections Room at the Edith Garland Durpé Library at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In those two months, I was able to digitize over 10GB of scanned information, spanning from the late 1910s to the 1940s. Those seven weeks offered the opportunity to exhaust diverse repositories, from newspapers and personal family files to diocesan archives and civil proceedings. To my surprise, an over-abundance of raw and finished material awaited me―more material than I ever dreamed existing, enhancing my project in new, exciting and significant ways. My gratitude for the Society for its bursary cannot be expressed enough.

Find out more about SSLH bursary schemes.