Catherine Benoit

Catherine Benoit

Professor of Anthropology

Joined Connecticut College: 2001

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


Areas of interest: Haiti, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, European overseas territories, Union of Comoros, Mayotte

Necropolitics, borders, (im)mobilities, maritime cemeteries

Garden and Landscape studies

Catherine Benoît’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 and in the Indian Ocean region.

In her work on the experience of space and nature in the Caribbean, Benoît 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 border reinforcement, deportations, and (im)mobilities in the French overseas departments of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. This interest in the non-movements of people 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 (In the heart of the ‘Friendly island’: Migrations, Culture and Aids in St. 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 necropolitics in the overseas territories by looking at the immigration policies and “deportation regimes” being developed in the French transatlantic and Indian ocean regions.

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

Au cœur des ténèbres de la ‘Friendly island’: migrations, sida et culture à Saint-MartinQuébec, Canada: Presses de l’Université Laval – Paris, France: Éditions Hermann, 2015

A. I. Barthélemy, C. Benoît et al. Cette France-là, vol. 2 : 01/07/2008 – 30/06/2009. Paris, France: Éditions La Découverte, 2010

A. I. Barthélemy, C. Benoît et al. Cette France-là, vol. 1 : 06/05/2007 – 30/06/2008. Paris, France: Éditions La Découverte, 2009


Fortress Europe’s far-flung borderlands: ‘Illegality’ and the ‘deportation regime’ in France’s Caribbean and Indian Ocean territories, Mobilities, 15 (2): 220-240 (2020)

Producing, Collecting and Exhibiting Bizango Sculptures from Haiti. Transatlantic Vodou on the International Art Scene, (with André Delpuech), African arts, 51 (4) : 8-19 (2018)

‘La carte n’est pas le territoire’ ! Coutume, droit et nationalité plurielle en Guyane,Ethnologie française, XLVIII, 1 : 121-130 (2018)

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 (2016)

Visit the anthropology department website. 

Majoring in Anthropology.

Contact Catherine Benoit

Mailing Address

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


317 Blaustein Humanities Building