STARACO - Statuts,«race» et couleurs dans l'Atlantique de l'Antiquité à nos jours 




Start . 2013

Duration . 48 months

Principal Investigators . Antonio Almeida Mendes (EPHE) / Clément Thibaud (UNantes) / Nicolas Terrien (UNantes)





Funding Entity

Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire


Host Institution

Université de Nantes

Main Research Unit

Centre de Recherches en Histoire Internationale et Atlantique / Université de Nantes


CHAM - Centro de Humanidades 


STARACO’s project main theme is the history of the status of hierarchies, colours and "races" in the Atlantic area, from the Middle Ages to nowadays. It focuses on the processes of racialization and how Europeans reinforced these in the context of the colonisation of the Americas and Africa. In addition, it approaches African slave trade, the emergence of the plantation economy and the formation of multi-ethnic societies, arisen from the conquest and transatlantic trade of the Americas and some islands. African and European cities of the Modern era were key experiences that led to the racialization of non-European peoples. This process starts with medieval legal mechanisms defining the status of non-Christian minorities (Jews and Muslims) and throws its shadow over our time in the form of racism. This offers a partial explanation for the difficulty faced by the countries of Atlantic Europe to develop certain aspects of their ethnic pluralism (in relation to their colonial history in particular). This project is not a normative compliment of multiculturalism. It solely offers scientific research to contribute to the construction of Atlantic societies, bringing together history, anthropology, geography, sociology and economics, displaying the emergence of the statutes and racial hierarchies that accompanied it. Collective research breaks with the traditional national historiographical divisions. It will be organised around four transversal areas that will lead to scientific events (summer courses), study, educational workshops and doctorate day meetings.



STARACO project aims at carrying out a historic reflection on the issue of the different status and colours in the historical construction of "races" and hierarchies. The dynamics of globalisation in France in recent years caused profound changes in our society. Financial globalisation, the phenomenon of resettlements, the crisis of European integration and the emergence of the South’s’ superpowers challenge the ideas of diversity, tolerance, freedom and acceptance of the other, the basis of the Continental Unity project in the aftermath of World War II. The city of Nantes and Pays de la Loire are central regions, both in the past and present, having always received large foreign communities through their maritime trade and, thus, played a leading role in the construction of the European, African and Americas Atlantic. The project also targets the theme of the creation of racial hierarchies in the Atlantic, seeking a way to rethink the development of relations between Europe and the peoples of the South and the emergence of colour or “race” prejudice, that still affect today’s societies.



The STARACO project aims to analyse issues related to slavery, colour, race, minorities and migration in the Atlantic area, as a result of a ten-year maturation of the theme by its leading team. It intends to work on these issues at regional, national and international levels, encouraging their research. It counts on the mobility of the researchers involved in both the training of students and meeting of researchers, teachers and civil society. As a consequence of this dialogue, the researchers aim to cross the different experiences and historiographical traditions and also present thei work, participating in workshops and scientific activities in the Pays du Loire region, in collaboration with the CRHIA Centre. It is also intended that this research group participates in the dissemination of their collective work’s results to a wider public - civil society, organisations, local authorities, teachers, schools, etc. This social sciences research project accompanies several policies undertaken in recent years by the city of Nantes and Pays de la Loire. The Memorial for the Abolition of Slavery, the activities of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA), the House of Human Sciences and Scientific Policy, followed by the Museum of the Dukes of Brittany embody these current efforts. The project also aims to meet the expectations of the different political life areas, offering the capacity to intervene in debates and meetings between the researchers and project collaborators and political actors aiming at raising public awareness to the need for historical debate, analysing also our contemporary society.






Antonio Almeida Mendes (EPHE) . coordenator 

Clément Thibaud (UNantes) . coordenador 

Aanor Le Mouël . Coordenator 



Ana Catarina Garcia

Margarida Vaz do Rego Machado

Susana Serpa Silva