Malaurie J. Pilatte

PhD Candidate, History

Malaurie J. Pilatte is a PhD candidate in the History Department at Johns Hopkins University, currently writing her dissertation. Pilatte’s research interests include 19th- and 20th-century U.S history, African American history, African American women’s history, histories of gender and womanhood, history of ideas and transnational histories with a focus on France and francophone world. 

Her dissertation project highlights the role of France as a place—real and imagined—in the ideas and lives of educated African American women in the 19th and 20th centuries. The subjects of Pilatte’s dissertation are women who aimed to serve as representatives of “the race,” from artists to activists to educators. Pilatte aims to challenge the traditional story about Americans in France, which has been heavily biased towards white—and to a lesser extent Black—men in the Jazz era or “Les Années Folles.” Her work focuses instead on the period leading up to the interwar era, between the 1880s and 1925, and brings to the fore a varied group of Black women who used France and the French language in their lives and careers.  

Malaurie was born and raised in Tours, France. Her research interests were spurred on by narratives of “French colorblindness” and a commitment to understanding and disentangling the making of race and gender between France and the U.S. She trained at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, where she earned two master’s degrees, and was a laureate of the “Agrégation d’Anglais” before coming to Johns Hopkins. Pilatte has contributed a book review to “Black Perspectives,” the blog of the African American Intellectual History Association.