Vanessa Quince, a UW Ph.D. student in Political Science, is a recipient of the Center for West European Studies Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS). With this funding, she has spent the summer tackling something only the French language is able to unlock: the impact of race in France’s trade agreements dating back to colonial times.
Quince, who grew up in a Haitian-American household speaking Kreyol (Creole) at home and taking Spanish classes at school, is on a new linguistic journey to enable her to understand the context and language of French colonial trade agreements. “When I hear spoken French, the words seem similar to Kreyol but I hesitate…because of the different pronunciation,” she said.
For her Ph.D. work, Quince has begun to investigate the role of race in international relations. In particular, she is interested in the role of race in how states sign international trade agreements. She argues that the lasting effects of slavery and colonization are seen today in how states negotiate agreements. She asks how states understand themselves as part of an “in-group or out-group” and how race is an important part of that distinction. “I believe that race could be important in the signing and drafting of international trade agreements. Whiteness is an identity of power, and power asymmetries are crucial in understanding how states interact with one another. “