A discussion about French convicts and the case for freedom in Australia, with Dr Alexis Bergantz

Where : Alliance Française, Basement
51 Grey Street, St Kilda
Date : Thursday 2nd August 2018
Time : 7pm - 9pm
Tickets : $15 (including cheese and wine)

Buy tickets here

L’évasion de Rochefort - Edouard  Manet

Escape was on every mind. How many succeeded remains a tantalising question. For the thousands of convicts France sent to New Caledonia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the best way to stay at large, but also the most dangerous, was to reach Australia. The ones who survived the hazardous journey were quick to disappear, doing what they needed to go on: some became prostitutes, kitchen porters, or reinvented themselves as heirs to French nobility.

The lives of France’s bagnards who sought refuge in Australia have until now attracted little attention – perhaps a testament to their cunning. Through an analysis of extradition files, government reports and periodicals, this talk will pay particular attention to the creative agency of the convicts who were caught in the Australian legal system and in the judicial limbo between the French and British empires.

Alexis Bergantz
is a Lecturer in French Studies at RMIT University. He completed his PhD at the Australian National University in 2016, for which he was awarded the John Molony Prize in History. His research interests mainly focus on Franco-Australian cultural history and penal colonisation in New Caledonia. His work has been published in Australian Historical Studies, The French-Australian Review and the New Zealand Journal of French Studies.

The Melbourne Salon is a joint venture between RMIT University, the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations and the Alliance Française de Melbourne.

It is a place where curious and open-minded people can engage in French-Australian cross-cultural dialogues with the aim of broadening the understanding of French and Australian perspectives on contemporary topics through conversation, debate and discussion. 


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