Jakob Burnham

My research broadly questions the relationship between imperial goals and colonial social realities in the seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century French empire.

Photo of Jakob Burnham

It attempts to integrate the history of early modern French India with the more developed historiographies of the French Atlantic and metropolitan France. 


My dissertation, Producing Pondichéry: Social Categories and Urban Development in French India, 1690-1742, considers how new constructions of race, gender, and class by French agents-colonizers and South Asian resident emerged in the contexts of developing urban space. Considering the contexts of the French State's financial agendas, I explore how negotiations over the definitions and control of colonial space contributed to the unique socio-urban development of Pondichéry. Analyzing notarial records, correspondence, court records, and other archival documents in France, India, and the United Kingdom, my research studies Pondichéry’s development into a global nexus for South Asian communities, French agent-colonizers, and other world travelers in India as a socially based process as much as an economically based one. In doing so, I explore an alternate viewpoint to analyze the French colonial entrenchment on the Indian sub-continent aside from the more traditional focus on eighteenth-century trading companies.