Deirdre Lyons

Deirdre Lyons, Dissertation Fellow at the CSRPC; Ph.D. Candidate in Caribbean/Atlantic World History

Deirdre Lyons is a Ph.D. Candidate in Caribbean/Atlantic World History and a Dissertation Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. Her research and teaching focus on race, gender, family, sexuality, and citizenship in the Atlantic World. 
Her dissertation situates Martinique and Guadeloupe as central sites for analyzing the abolition of slavery and post-emancipation periods in the nineteenth-century Caribbean. She claims that family life is an essential analytic category for evaluating the transition from slavery to freedom in the French Antilles. By focusing not only on the policies of French imperial administrators and reformers, but also the perspectives of freedpeople and indentured laborers from Africa, Asia, and Europe living and working on the islands, her project examines how the convergence of metropolitan imperial policies and Antillean private lives shaped the transatlantic and inter-island debate over political and civil rights after slavery. This dissertation  also presents a much-needed social history of freedpeople and indentured laborers by outlining how they claimed civil rights in the post-slavery era. Deirdre’s research demonstrates that, for these multiethnic and polyglot communities in Martinique and Guadeloupe, civil rights were intimately connected to the social and cultural customs that structured everyday life. During her year and a half of archival research, Deirdre examined documents at the National Archives, Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Archives d’outer-mer in France as well as the departmental archives in Martinique and Guadeloupe. This work was generously funded by the Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and the Western Society for the Study of French History. 
A native of New York, Deirdre received her B.A. in history (with highest honors) from NYU in 2010. She also received an M.A. in History from the University of Chicago in 2013 and an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2011. Recently, she was the co-curator of the Aysyen-Poloné exhibit at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago and co-coordinator of the Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean. She has taught extensively at the University of Chicago and her teaching interests include the Atlantic world, slavery and emancipation, the history of gender and sexuality, and the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. She is also a political podcast enthusiast and a devoted fan of anything made by Amy Sherman-Palladino.