Esther Brandeau/Jacques La Fargue: An Eighteenth-Century Multicrosser in the Canadian Cultural Archive
This chapter examines how Esther Brandeau/Jacques La Fargue has circulated in the Canadian cultural archive since being first inscribed in French colonial documents in 1738. This “multicrosser,” originating from Bayonne, France, passed across several axes of signification concurrently, and was doubly outed as female and Jewish at Québec City after five years of working across France. Ultimately deported for refusing to convert to Christianity, Esther/Jacques disappeared thereafter from the record. Inspired by the study of literary Sephardism and Marranism, and taking a queer, intersectional, decolonial lens to the work Esther/Jacques has been made to do around questions of nation and belonging, the author argues that eruptions of the story across diverse genres coincide with key moments in the development of Canada as a settler nation. The chapter aims to insert this figure into Atlantic, Sephardic, and American Studies scholarship, as well as into histories of gender crossing.