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Painting a picture of history

Queen’s University professor Gauvin Bailey (Art History) is one of only two scholars outside the United States to win the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. With the funding, Dr. Bailey is undertaking the first comprehensive study of the arts and architecture of the French Atlantic Empire.

His forthcoming book, Art and Architecture in the French Atlantic World, will be the first book that examines both the artistic and architectural heritage of the French Atlantic Empire and looks at the connections and interactions between its many colonies.

Queen's professor Gauvin Bailey has earned funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

“For almost two decades I have worked on the arts and especially architecture of colonial Latin America, including both the Spanish and Portuguese empires,” says Dr. Bailey, Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art. “But it has always fascinated me that there was a third Catholic empire in the Americas at the same time which covered a similarly vast territory with its own cities, country mansions, and missions, yet which is virtually unknown to Latin Americanists. That empire is the French Atlantic Empire, extending from West Africa to Lake Superior, and from Lake Superior to French Guyana.”

The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship will allow Dr. Bailey to conduct research travel and visit buildings, museums, and archives in distant places which would not otherwise be possible to visit. One of the really exciting things is that in places like Martinique or French Guyana some of the buildings have never even been researched before.

“They are interested in funding me because I am taking a topic that is generally only studied on a country-by-country basis and moving it beyond geographic barriers,” explains Dr. Bailey. “As in Canada, the United States has a huge French heritage that is frankly very little known and the funding agency probably saw that by placing it in the context of the Canadian, Caribbean, and African heritage that the book would be able to ask larger questions about the nature of this vast empire and the ways in which its arts and architecture expressed particular ideologies and attitudes.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $17.9 million in grants for 233 humanities projects. These include research for a book on a Hollywood-based Jewish spy ring that infiltrated and sabotaged Nazi and fascist groups in the U.S. in the 1930s and 40s, and the conservation of artifacts pertaining to the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people, homesteaders, and the Manhattan Project held by the Los Alamos Historical Society.

For more information on the grant visit the website.