Robin Mitchell


Prof. Robin Mitchell.

Robin Mitchell


Robin Mitchell


College of Arts and Sciences Endowed Professor

Research Interests

The African Diaspora in France and the United States; European History; late 18th and early 19th Century Paris; Race and Gender; Popular Culture; Representations; Sexuality and Colonialism; Women’s History.


  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2010
  • MA, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2001
  • BA, Mills College, 1998

Research Interests

The African Diaspora in France and the United States; European History; late 18th and early 19th Century Paris; Race and Gender; Popular Culture; Representations; Sexuality and Colonialism; Women’s History

Current Research

Robin Mitchell is an Associate Professor of European History in the Department of History at the University at Buffalo. She is a 19th century French historian, specializing in discourses about race, gender, and sexuality. 

Her work focuses on the white colonial fantasies, scandals, and crime imposed upon Black women's bodies and voices when they were in metropolitan French spaces. Mitchell has published numerous journal articles, and her first book, Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France (University of Georgia Press, 2020), was named by the African American Intellectual History Society to its "The Best Black History books of 2020," and by The Guardian as one of "The Best Books About Sex" in 2021.

Mitchell's forthcoming book will be the first biography of Suzanne Simone Baptiste also known as Madame Toussaint Louverture, a heretofore neglected yet influential figure in the history of Blackness in France. It is currently under contract with Princeton University Press.



The Biography of Suzanne Simone Baptiste, Madame Toussaint Louverture (under contract with University of Princeton Press).

Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, January 2020).

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

“A History of Black Women in Nineteenth-Century France,” The Routledge Companion to Black Women’s Cultural Histories, ed. Janell Hobson (Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2021).

« Répliques sismiques de la Révolution Haïtienne en France: Influences de femmes noires sur la production de la francité, » Les populations noires en France, une histoire mosaïque (Paris: Editions Vendémiaire, forthcoming).

“Shaking the Racial and Gender Foundations of France: The Influences of ‘Sarah Baartmann’ in the Cultural Production of Frenchness,” Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, 1848-2015 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

“Another Means of Understanding the Gaze: Sarah Bartmann and the Development of Nineteenth-Century French National Identity,” They Called Her Hottentot: The Art, Science, and Fiction of Sarah Baartman, eds. Deborah Willis and Carla Williams (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010), 32-46.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

“‘Ourika Mania’: Interrogating Race, Class, Space, and Place in Early 19th-Century France,” “Black Paris and the Lived Experiences of Black Subjects,” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 10, No. 2, (2015) 2017.

“L’Affaire de la Négresse Henriette Lucille: Race, Gender, and Social Status in Eighteenth-Century France,” Transnational Subjects: History, Society and Culture 2, No. 1 (April 2012), 21-48.

Entries in Peer-Reviewed Dictionaries

“Pauline, ou soeur Thérèse” and “Jeanne Marie Marthe Duval” in Dictionnaire des gens de couleur dans la France moderne (Dictionary of People of Color in Early Modern France), edited by Erick Noël (Droz: Genève, 2013), Volume 2: “Nantes et la Bretagne,” 10-11 and 640-641.


Distinguished Visiting Scholar, University at Buffalo, 2022-2023

The President's Visiting Scholar's Fellowship, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA, March 2022

Maury Green Fellow, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, 2021-2022

Recipient, Exceptional Service to Students Award, Fall 2019; Spring 2018

Faculty Fellow, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, Channel Islands, CA, 2018

Recipient, "Excellence in Teaching" Award, DePaul University, 2015-2016

Recipient, Gerald Paetsch Academic Advising Award, DePaul University, 2014-2015


Advisory Board Member, New Directions in Francophone Studies: Diversity, Decolonization, Queerness, Edinburgh University Press, 2023-present.

Network Scholar, Fanm Rebél, 2023-present.

Vice President, French Colonial Historical Society, 2022-2023

Advisory Board, Imaginaries: Films, Fictions, and Other Representations of the French-Speaking Worlds, 2022-present.

Editorial Board, Decolonizing and Queering Francophone Studies Book Series, 2021-Present.

Editorial Board, H-France, 2021-Present.

Awards Committee, Society for French Historical Studies, 2021-Present.

Governing Council, Western Society for French History, 2018-2022.

Commencement Speaker, University of California, Berkeley, History Department Commencement, May 18, 2021.

Executive Board / Media Editor, French Colonial Historical Society, 2018-2021.