We decided to conduct this project with the support of DESORMEAUX editions, pionier of the great editions in the French overseas departments and territories. The producer is an academic from the Indian Ocean who is doing a Ph.D thesis about the evangelization of the Mascarenes.
Chronique beauté noire : How was “Histoire des familles de la Réunion” born?
Emile Desormeaux : Reunion island’s building can’t compare to that of other French overseas territories. In the beginning, there were a lot of poor Europeans who were given concessions and did lowly jobs. They were much more influential than the Whites in the plantations and industry.
Chronique beauté noire : Till what period of History does your work date back to?
E.D : Our study dates back to the beginning of colonization of course, in 1674. People made donations to the Church, had various missions and had concessions of land. All of them are named in our general index that encompasses more than 200 names.
Chronique beauté noire : Can any inhabitant of the island have the chance to find their History or their name in your books/CD ?
E.D : The documentation has 1200 pages and 4000 pictures. It is a living History that encompasses the name of al the people who contributed to the building of the island: from farmers to industrialists.
Chronique beauté noire : Is it easier to find sources for some origins more than others ?
E.D : The names that we have are those who contributed to the building of the island, enabling us to follow the evolution of goods and that of the economy. There is no sich work in other French overseas departments.
Chronique beauté noire : Have you already been asked for the History of some names ? If yes, what are the most searched names ?
E.D : Until now, we received a lot of requests on our website www.histoiredelareunion.com and we have around 8300 Facebook and Twitter fans. Patronyms PAYET, HOAREAU, RIVIERE and NATIVEL are the most frequently searched names.
Chronique beauté noire : Compared to other French overseas departments, there is less History books about Reunion island (actually, we know less about its History). Why is that ?
E.D : We deserve credit for innovating – seeing the people fight to create a place for themselves makes us understand better how much they were involved in the social life and to realize that they were not marginalized or even ignored like in other overseas departments.
Chronique beauté noire : According to you, do people from Reunion know enough about the History of their island ?
E.D : We never know enough about our History. Considering it from another perspective makes us understand it better.
Chronique beauté noire : When will the encyclopedia be released ?
E.D : There will be an encyclopedia and a CD. They should be available by the end of December. The date will be given on our Facebook and twitter pages soon.
Chronique beauté noire: Anything to add ?
E.D : There is no such work elsewhere and it stimulates and fulfills the need to know more about one’s parentage and the genesis of one’s country. A lot of people could fancy our work.