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Eric J. Toups

Profile picture for Eric J. Toups

Contact Information

110 Coble Hall
801 S. Wright St.
801 S Wright
M/C 322
Champaign, IL 61820
PhD Student

Research Interests

Native American History
French Atlantic
U.S. Colonial


Research Description

I broadly study Native American history in North America in the late 17th and early 18th centuries with particular focus on the Lower Mississippi Valley. My dissertation will discuss placemaking and spatial history in Bvlbancha (the name given to the Mississippi River Delta region by its Indigenous inhabitants, meaning "the place of many tongues"). Using space as my methodology, I examine how the many Indigenous, settler colonist, and enslaved African communities who moved or were moved into Bvlbancha made that place their home. As a highly fluid and dynamic landscape crisscrossed with rivers and streams and prone to constant change, the landscape itself and the spatial strategies developed by Indigenous Bvlbanchans over the centuries made the processes of creating a new spatial regime in the form of "La Louisiane/La Luisiana" slow and incomplete. I consider Louisiana, the colonial enterprise undertaken by the French and Spanish in the eighteenth century, to be spatial regime limited in scope rather than a territorial claim extending across the continent. In doing so it becomes clear that, for much of its history, Louisiana was merely one spatial regime among many and did not define the spatial politics of the region as much as has been assumed. 


MA History, University of Maine, 2019

BA History, Louisiana State University, 2016


Carl J. Ekberg Research Grant, Center for French Colonial Studies (April 2022)

Summer Pre-Dissertation Travel Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (April 2021)


Awards and Honors

American History Award, National Society for the Colonial Dames of America (April 2022)

Joseph Ward Swain Publication Prize, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (April 2021)

Courses Taught

HIST 498: American Empire

Recent Publications

“Indian Men and French ‘Women’: Fragile Masculinity and Fragile Alliances in Colonial Louisiana, 1699-1741,” Early American Studies (forthcoming Fall 2023)

“More Than a Missionary: Jesuits, First Nations, and Colonial Crisis in French Detroit, 1728-1751,” Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 46, no. 1 (Spring 2020)