Catherine Benoit

Professor of Anthropology

Joined Connecticut College: 2001

On sabbatical Academic Year 2016-2017

Licence d'histoire de l'art et d'archéologie, Université la Sorbonne - Paris I
Licence d'ethnologie, Université Paris VII
Diplôme d'anthropologie historique de L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)
Doctorat d'anthropologie de l'EHESS


Migration and border reinforcement

Anthropology of gardens and landscape

Health inequalities

Areas of interest: Haiti, Sint Maarten, Guadeloupe, European overseas territories

Catherine Benoit’s research interests have developed in two directions. First, she explores the emergence and construction of individual and collective identities in the Caribbean in relation to the bodily experience of space and nature. Second, she examines immigration issues and border reinforcement in the Caribbean.

In her work on the experience of space and nature in the Caribbean, Benoit has been looking at how dooryard gardens define Creole worldviews and self. In her book Corps, jardins, mémoires - Anthropologie du corps et de l’espace à la Guadeloupe (Body, Gardens, Memory: Anthropology of the Body and Space in Guadeloupe) she is pursuing this understanding of Creole cultures with a hermeneutic approach to the study of space and nature in the African diaspora in the Caribbean, South America and the U.S. since the 16th century by looking at the emergence of gardens among enslaved African populations and their current development as heritage sites.

Benoit is now focusing on questions related to the mobility and immobility of people living in the Caribbean. This interest in transnationalism emerged from her study of medical pluralism in the therapy management of immigrant patients living with AIDS or sickle-cell disease in the bi-national French/Dutch island of St. Martin and in Guadeloupe. In her book, Au cœur des ténèbres de la ‘Friendly island’: Migrations, Culture et Sida à Saint-Martin, she explores the transnational therapeutic itineraries of the immigrants living with AIDS who look for care in St. Martin, Haiti, Guadeloupe and Europe in the context of the high rate of deportations, which is characteristic of the French immigration policies in the region.

She is currently affiliated with several collaborative international research programs sponsored by the French Ministry of Research, French Ministry of Justice, Université des Antilles, Université de Guyane and Université d’Amiens. Within all these projects she looks at the French technics/regime of biopower in the overseas territories by looking at the immigration policies developed in the French transatlantic and Indian ocean regions.

In 2011 and 2012, Benoit organized the two first U.S. editions of a research film festival titled "Culture, Diaspora, Citizenship in the African Diaspora," initiated since 2008 by The Slavery, Memory and Citizenship research network (The Harriet Tubman Institute/York University, CELAT/Université Laval, CIRESC/CNRS, LABHOI/Universidade Federal Fluminense).

Benoit has been a post-doctoral fellow at the African American Studies Department, University of California, Berkeley; Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University; and at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, at Yale University. She is the recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture, Agence nationale de recherche sur le Sida, Fondation pour la recherche médicale, and UNESCO.

Recent publications

2015 Dans le cœur des ténèbres de la Friendly island : migrations, sida et culture à Saint-Martin. Québec : Presses de l’Université de Laval & Paris : Éditions Hermann.

2016 “Pampila et politique sur le Maroni : De l’état-civil sur un fleuve frontière en Guyane,”Revue d'histoire de la Justice, (25): 237-259.

Book chapters
2016 “Etre de quelque part mais être né nulle part... Frontières et état civil en Guyane” book chapter in Collomb, Gérard & Serge Mam Lam Fouck (dir.) Mobilités, ethnicités, diversité culturelle : La Guyane entre Surinam et Brésil, Ibis Rouge : 161-170.

2015 “Sans-Papiers amérindiens et noirs marrons. La fabrication de l’étranger sur le fleuve Maroni,” in Jean Moomou (ed)., Les marronnages et leurs productions sociales, culturelles dans les Guyanes et le bassin caribéen du XVIIème au XXème siècle : bilans et perspectives de recherche, Cayenne : Ibis Rouge : 463-472.

2014 “Les jardins de l’Atlantique noire... ou la conquête des identités créoles,” in Laurence Pourchez, Créolité, créolisation : Regards croisés, Paris : Editions des archives contemporaines. pp. 173-183.

Visit the anthropology department website. 

Majoring in Anthropology.

Contact Catherine Benoit

Mailing Address

Catherine Benoit
Connecticut College
Box #5307
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


202 Blaustein Humanities Building