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Session of october 7th

Lecture of M. Gauvin Alexander Bailey, correspondent of the Académie : « Architecture & Urbanism in the French Atlantic World, 1604-1830 : Ideology and Reality in France, West Africa, and the Other Latin America. »).

Abstract : Although the architecture of Spanish and Portuguese America today comprises one of the most flourishing subjects in the art-historical discipline the same cannot be said for that of the French Atlantic Empire, which astonishingly—except for regional scholarship on Quebec and a handful of studies of buildings in Louisiana—does not exist as a field.

This talk will provide a brief overview of the architectural heritage of the French Atlantic Empire (including the rich collection of plans and drawings in the archives in Aix-en-Provence and elsewhere) and will contextualize French America within the history of Latin American architecture, examining how differing ideologies and utopianisms among the French and Iberian empires led to strikingly contrasting architectural cultures despite shared histories of conquest, settlement, conversion, and forced labour. This paper will encompass North America, the French Antilles, French Guyana, and also Senegal.

This paper will consider French Atlantic architecture as a product of a uniquely French ideology of cultural uniformity, an intellectual construct of preordained, centralized, and circumscribed national territory developed under Louis XIV (1661-1715) and known as the pré carré. It resulted in a stubborn vision of unity in the face of geographical or demographic diversity, and in a reluctance to engage culturally with non-Europeans, including indigenous peoples and the rapidly growing populations of slaves and gens de couleur. Settlements such as Quebec were intentionally founded outside Native American territory and—in striking contrast to the Spanish practice of using Amerindian labour—even missionaries brought lay French architects and builders (donnés) with them. The architecture of the French Atlantic Empire was profoundly different from the awkward but functional balance of utopianism and pragmatism that allowed acculturative, hybrid architectural styles to flourish in Spanish America.

Lecture of M. Grégory Pereira, under the patronage of M. Jean-Pierre SODINI : “All not quiet on the Western Front: Recent research regarding the origins of the Tarascan State, Michoacán, Mexico”.

Long considered a region on the margins of the major episodes of Mesoamerican civilization, West Mexico today lies at the heart of archaeological research that is profoundly changing our vision of the past. The work currently being carried out in the volcanic highlands of Michoacan offers new data regarding the origins of one of the emblematic cultures of this region: the Tarascans, direct ancestors of the modern Purépechas and founders of a state that was powerful enough to resist attempts at expansion by their neighbors and rivals, the Aztecs. While ethnohistory details the organization of the Tarascan state at the beginning of the 16th century, much less is known about the origins of its inhabitants and the societies that preceded the emergence of this state.
Research carried out in recent years around the modern city of Zacapu has revealed a complex history, marked by significant changes in the settlement patterns and organization of these societies. Using new approaches and tools, it is now possible to characterize with precision the period between AD 1250 and 1450, which directly preceded the emergence of the Tarascan State. This latter is marked by a spectacular phenomenon of urbanization whose impact on the landscape can now be understood at an unprecedented resolution thanks to the LiDAR method of remote sensing. Furthermore, interdisciplinary approaches to understanding production processes as well as osteological remains (both human and animal) has opened a wide spectrum of new knowledge relative to the economy of raw materials, production technologies, subsistence and even the human mobility that underlay the formation of a new society. Finally, the research being carried out also focuses on periods that precede the formation of urban sites. It shows that the emergence of Postclassic cities occurred after the disappearance of a more ancient, complex system.


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