Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Les Réfugiés Acadiens En France (1758-1785): L'impossible Réintégration?

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Les Réfugiés Acadiens En France (1758-1785): L'impossible Réintégration?

Article excerpt

Jean-François Mouhot, Les réfugiés acadiens en France (1758-1785): l'impossible réintégration? (Quebec: Les éditions du Septentrion, 2009), 456 pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-2-89448-513-2.

A book examining approximately 3,000 Acadians who reached France in 1758, three years after their deportation from the Maritimes, through to 1785, when about 1,600 of them moved on to Louisiana, might seem a footnote to Canadian Studies. In fact, Jean-François Mouhot has produced a carefully researched and closely argued monograph which has an importance that transcends its focus and time period. Central to his analysis is the contested issue of Acadian identity - when did it emerge and of what did it consist? Was there a sense of group solidarity among the refugees dumped on French shores? What did they call themselves?

Mouhot insists that previous historians have assumed a specific identity prior to 1755 and labelled it 'Acadian', and have attributed their failure to take root back in France to this. The problem, as he sees it, is that there are many documents about the Acadians (to use the term for convenience), but most of the few by them were petitions shaped to win concessions from the strong rather than to reveal the perceptions of the weak. On the face of it, the Acadians ought to have fitted in: they defined themselves as people who spoke French and were deeply Catholic. French officials came to call them 'Acadians' but the people themselves were more often likely to use the hardly tactful label 'neutral French'. As Mouhot sensibly observes, concepts such as 'assimilation' and 'integration' reflect modern thinking largely absent in the eighteenth century. …

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