On 26 April 2017 Heather Hermant will defend her PhD thesis. In her dissertation, Hermant complicates eighteenth century crossdressing and argues for an intersectional approach to retell colonial era stories of transgression in service of queer, feminist and decolonial worldmaking!The argument is performed through attention to the case of Esther Brandeau/Jacques La Fargue, known as the first or among the first Jewish people to arrive to Canada. They did so in 1738 as a purportedly female Jewish subject passing as a Christian male, after years of working across France as, or often as, male.

In Part I, ‘multicrossing’ is elaborated as passing across multiple, simultaneous co-inscribing axes of signification. Through analysis of anachronies of moving between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries, and an analysis of eruptions of the story within Canadian culture, the story’s visibility is shown to be conditional and coincident with moments of preoccupation with national belonging. Analysis shows how sociopolitical forces constrain accounts of Brandeau/La Fargue as multicrosser.

Desire, doubt, error and haunting
In Part II, the roles of desire and haunting in historical research are attended to through immersion in archival labour. Narration of this research process and its findings serves to elaborate a ‘heretic methodology’—a queer historiography where error, doubt, desire and haunting enable production of a texture of the historical subject’s living in the absence of conclusive evidence. This reveals how affective connection can be operationalized in historical practice, and how transtemporal touch underpinning queer historiography produces ‘on the ground’.

Body, memory and historical knowledge
In Part III, the author’s historical reenactments of Brandeau/La Fargue further our understanding of the relationship between body, memory and historical knowledge. The relationship between the performance practice of historical reenactment, and the performative nature of historical research is elaborated.

Date: Wednesday 26 April 2017
Time: 14:30 hrs (late entrance not possible)
Location: Senaatszaal, University Hall, Domplein 29, Utrecht
Title: ‘Esther Brandeau / Jacques La Fargue: Performing a Reading of an Eighteenth Century Multicrosser’
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Gloria Wekker, Prof. dr. Geertje Mak, Prof. dr. Rosemarie Buikema

For more information go here.