Mahadevi Ramakrishnan

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Mahadevi Ramakrishnan

Senior Lecturer in French

As a faculty member of the Romance Languages Department at Colgate University for 17 years, I am keenly interested in studying the preservation, loss, and evolution of original languages and cultures of displaced groups, particularly within colonial, postcolonial, and immigrant communities in the French Caribbean. I am of the belief that examining the circumstances of displacement, the acculturation process, and the responses of the host communities to the presence of these newcomers can help us better understand the dynamics of exclusion and discrimination. In 2022, I was a Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching recipient.

Doctor of Arts
Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures 
Syracuse University, 1992

M.A. Foreign Languages & Literatures
Syracuse University, 1987

B. A. History 
University of Madras, India, 1984

Alliance Française de Madras, India, June 1984

  • Diplôme Supérieur de Langue Française
  • Diplôme de Langue Française

Received with Distinction


May 2015: Interplay of Cultural Narratives in Martinique: French, African, and Indian Journeys toward a Pluralistic Society. Book published by Caribbean Studies Press (Cat # CSP3704, 282pp, ISBN 978-1-62632-370-4).  View Online


November 2024: “Reimagining postcolonial identities: The Blancs-Matignon of Guadeloupe.” French Cultural Studies, 35(4).

January 2024: “Collaboration and Exploration with Undergraduate Scholars,” AATF National Bulletin, 49(3), 8-9 & 11. 

December 2022: Interview entitled, A conversation with “a daughter of immigration,” Mariette Monpierre, Director of the film, Entre 2 Rives de Saint Domingue à Pointe-à-Pitre. Francosphères (Liverpool University Press), Vol. 11, Issue 2. DOI:

May 2022: Research article entitled, "The Creole Woman in Minatchy-Bogat’s Turn-of-the-Century Guadeloupe," in The French Review, Vol. 95, Issue 4, 2022. DOI:

May 2021: Research article entitled, "Homage to her Indian Ancestors in Minatchy-Bogat’s Terre d’Exil et d’Adoption," in French Studies Bulletin, Vol. 42, Issue 158, 2021. DOI:

June 2021: Research article entitled, "French Caribbean Settlements: Guadeloupe's Subsidiary Status," in the Journal of Caribbean History, Vol. 55, Issue 1, 2021. DOI:

April 2013: “French, African, and Indian cultural narratives in Martinique: The architecture of shifting social hierarchies from 1848-1884,” published in The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 27-36, April 2013.

Sept. 2012: “Preservation and loss of elements of native language: Resettlement in Martinique,” in the Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Language Learning, September 2012.


  • Dec. 2023: “L’évocation de l’Indianité à travers les romans de Minatchy-Bogat,” Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India. Invited to present a lecture to the students and Faculty at the Dept. of French on the literary works of Indo-Guadeloupean writer, Minatchy-Bogat.
  • July 2023: "Multiple Voices of the French Caribbean." Paper presented along with two students in a first for the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) in Trois Rivieres, Québec. 
  • June 2023: Blancs-Matignon of Guadeloupe: Integrate or segregate? Paper presented at the Society for French Studies, Newcastle, England. 
  • Dec. 2022: Adishakti in Auroville: Celebrating Adivasi and Dalit Arts and Literatures, Pondicherry, India. Attended conferences and discussions centered around the Adivasi and Dalit groups, especially women. 
  • October 2021: “Pondicherry to Pointe-à-Pitre: The 9,000-mile Journey of the Indentured Indians.” Humanities Colloquium, Colgate University.
  • October 2021: “Intra-Caribbean migration of women in Mariette Monpierre's documentary, Entre 2 Rives.”  AAUC (L’Association D’Art des Universités du Canada).
  • June 2019: "Diverse migrants and the restructuring of Guadeloupe’s social hierarchy." Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Santa Marta, Colombia
  • June 2018: "French Caribbean Identity and the Paradigm of Interdisciplinarity." Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Havana, Cuba.
  • Feb. 2017: "Tale of Black Histories." Served as a panelist at a symposium held by the Department of Theater and Film Studies and the Caribbean Studies Initiative of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
  • Nov. 2016: "La Martinique: une enfant illégitime de la France?" Presented a workshop on Martinique’s history and culture to the American Association of Teachers of French, Central New York Chapter.
  • July 2016: "What remains of the indigenous Carib culture in modern-day Guadeloupe and Martinique?" 16th Annual International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities, & Nations in Granada, Spain.
  • Jan. 2016: “Édouard Glissant’s Histoire de nègre in context: 1971 in Martinique and 2015 at Colgate University.” Served as a panelist at the MLA 2016 Annual Convention Special Session, Austin, Texas.
  • May 2015: “The Indian Worker System in Martinique: Social and Economic Boundaries.” Presented a paper at the 40th Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Jan. 2014: “The Genesis of Creolization and the Evolution of Postcolonial “Identities” in the French Caribbean.” Paper presented at the 12th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • June 2012: “French, African, and Indian Cultural Narratives in Martinique: The Architecture of Shifting Social Hierarchies from 1848-1884.” Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Barcelona, Spain.
  • July 2023: AATF Conference in Trois-Rivière, Canada

Papers presented by Kaitlin Maratea '25 and Amelia Rastle '25

  • May 2020: Senior Thesis Advisor, Colgate University 

Raka Mukherjee '20, Indiens des Caraîbes Françaises.

  • June 2019: Caribbean Studies Association Conference, Santa Marta, Colombia.

Papers presented by Devin Ferri '21 and Finn Schuemann '21

  •  June 2017: Caribbean Studies Association Conference, Nassau, Bahamas.

Papers presented by Sabrina Callender-Clewett '19 and Seth Grimes '19 

  •  May 2015: Caribbean Studies Association Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Papers presented by Laine Barrand ’17, Nicole Jackson ’18, Matthew Kavanagh ’17, and Linh Le ’18. 

  • Core 180C: Core French Caribbean
  • French 121 and 122: Introduction to French Language and Culture I & II
  • French 201: Intermediate French, Conversation and Composition 
  • French 202: Intermediate Language Culture and Literature
  • French 361: Composition, Grammar and Conversation

Kallgren Grant Recipient

Spring 2022: Group will explore the theme of Indigeneity and New Migrations in the Caribbean. We plan to study ways in which those populations that have indigenous status in the region are both empowered and marginalized. (Co-Recipient)

Spring 2019: Co-directed the first Franco-German Program in the RegioTriRhena. The goal of the program was to explore the culturally rich and diverse region of the TriRhena (France, Germany, Switzerland) by helping students navigate the tri-lingual/tri-cultural confluence of the region. (Co-Recipient)

Colgate Arts Council Grant Recipient

October 2021: Hosted Guadeloupean Film Director Mariette Monpierre to present excerpts from her narrative films and documentaries and discuss the various ways in which she explores post-colonial issues of identity, race, migration, and “othering” within the Caribbean basin.

March 2016: Hosted Ms. Rhodessa Jones on Colgate campus to kick off Women’s History Month celebrations. Ms. Jones is an actress, writer, director, and founder of the internationally acclaimed “Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women.” She uses playwriting, acting, and directing as forms of social work designed to empower incarcerated women and women with HIV. (Co-Recipient)

November 2014: Project Title: Histoire de nègre (1971)—Staged Reading and Roundtable -Through its examination of both history and myth, Histoire de nègre sought to interrogate the roots and meaning of Martinican identity in a hemispheric context, linking the struggle for racial justice in the French Caribbean to the civil rights movement in the U.S. (Co-Recipient)

Discretionary Research Grant Recipient

March 2022 and 2020: Grant was awarded for travel to Guadeloupe to help gain an understanding of the most current perspectives on pluralistic cultural identity which would form the core of my new book proposal.

March 2016: Grant awarded to support my travel to Guadeloupe to do additional research and find resources for my CORE C&I course on the French Caribbean.

March 2014: Grant awarded to travel to Martinique and conduct interviews to complete research for my 2015 book.

Beyond Colgate Grant Recipient

October 2022: Brought students to NYC to watch the performance of a French- Moroccan Dance Group. Their piece Näss is at the crossroads of the traditional and the modern generations thus creating a new identity that transcends cultural borders. 

April 2022: Brought students to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibit of the works of French artist, Jacques Louis David (1748-1825). Following the exhibition, the students were given an opportunity to appreciate French botanical art at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park featuring a French-style garden.

September 2019: Accompanied students to see a performance by the Senegalese artist, Germaine Acogny, at the Ellen Stewart Theater in NYC as a part of the “Bridging an International Dialogue on Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts,” launched by French Institute Alliance Française of NYC.

October 2018: Accompanied students to see, “Possessing Harriet” at the Syracuse Stage. The play explored colonialism, slavery, and the sugar industry which aligned with my Core French Caribbean class.

September 2017: Organized and directed a weekend trip to Maine for students of French to appreciate the legacy of the French language and culture in the Maine region.October 2013: Brought students to see a play (in French) on Marie Antoinette's life at the Alliance Française in NYC on Oct 24, 2013.Spring 2008, 2009, and 2010: Received three grants in succession to take students studying French at Colgate University on a cross-cultural/language immersion trip to Québec. Activities were designed to help students gain a better understanding of the history of the French presence in North America.

  • Spring 2022: CORE C&I Transition Team Member
  • Fall 2021 to present: Colgate University Language Council Member
  • Spring 2021 to present: Founding member, Colgate Contingent Faculty Council - One of the founding members of this autonomous, grassroots, independent group, whose primary goal is to advocate for policies of equity, inclusivity, and professional development for all contingent faculty at Colgate.
  • Aug. 26, 2020: Language and Off-Campus Study Information Session - Participated in a Language Faculty Panel for incoming first-year students and answer any questions related to the study of French Language and Literature at Colgate.
  • July 2020: OUS Scholar's Toolbox - Participated in a Faculty Panel for incoming first-year OUS scholars who participated in the 5-week Summer Institute.
  • Fall 2006 to present: Faculty Advisor, French Club - Continue to support and nurture the very active and enthusiastic French Club Student Officers and members on campus. Routinely participate in and facilitate field trips to French/Francophone regions in the US, Canada, and the French Caribbean, coffee hours, film screenings, banquets, and other activities.
  • September 2007 to present: French and Francophone Film Series Coordinator - Responsible for initiating and continuing to facilitate for the Francophone community at Colgate. Every semester 2-3 films representing the Francophone world are screened.
  • March 2018: Franco-American Identities - Organized a Humanities Colloquium Lecture with a colleague on the topic of Franco-American identities. The talk was given by Prof. Mary Rice-DeFosse from Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.
  • 2010 –2017: MLK Planning Committee Member - Served on this ad-hoc committee to plan and implement programming to recognize and commemorate MLK week at Colgate. Co-facilitate an International Student and Faculty panel to discuss issues of race in the US as perceived by the international community.
  • November 2014: Multicultural Open House, ROLA Representative - Participated in luncheon hosted by the Office of Admissions for the accepted students and their parents.
  • March 2011 Congo in the Colonial Imagination - Invited Prof. Joseph Mwantuali of Hamilton College to present a paper at the Humanities Colloquium to continue exposing students to the vast and rich work emanating from the Francophone regions.
  • Fall 2010 - Spring 2011 Interim Assistant Dean of Diversity - My primary responsibility was to assist the Dean of Diversity in ensuring that Colgate continues to be an all-inclusive community that values, supports, and affirms each of its members.

2022 Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching Recipient