News from the Research Commons

January 30, 2017

Spotlight on: Lise Lalonde and the Color of French Identity


How can you talk about racism without the words to describe it? Lise Lalonde, PhD student in French and Italian Studies, explains that her native French lacks the vocabulary we use in the United States to discuss racism; thus, the issue is pushed aside, forgotten.

Growing up, Lise heard a distorted version of history; years later, she asks herself: “What are we not told?” She explains that the French educational system only presents history and memories which will not threaten national unity, begging the question: who and what are excluded?

Lise’s research is centered around the question: “What is the role of race in the construction of French identity?” To study this topic, Lise is not only looking at race, she is looking at gender, community, whiteness, educational curriculum and power structure. Lise is not content to leave things as they are; she wants to know “why things are the way they are” – why people of color are left out of the fabric of French identity. In the spirit of inclusion, Lise hopes to publish her work through public scholarship; her research question compels any reader to think about the color of identity.