Dispossessed Lives

Author: Marisa J. Fuentes
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812293002
Format: PDF, ePub
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In the eighteenth century, Bridgetown, Barbados, was heavily populated by both enslaved and free women. Marisa J. Fuentes creates a portrait of urban Caribbean slavery in this colonial town from the perspective of these women whose stories appear only briefly in historical records. Fuentes takes us through the streets of Bridgetown with an enslaved runaway; inside a brothel run by a freed woman of color; in the midst of a white urban household in sexual chaos; to the gallows where enslaved people were executed; and within violent scenes of enslaved women's punishments. In the process, Fuentes interrogates the archive and its historical production to expose the ongoing effects of white colonial power that constrain what can be known about these women. Combining fragmentary sources with interdisciplinary methodologies that include black feminist theory and critical studies of history and slavery, Dispossessed Lives demonstrates how the construction of the archive marked enslaved women's bodies, in life and in death. By vividly recounting enslaved life through the experiences of individual women and illuminating their conditions of confinement through the legal, sexual, and representational power wielded by slave owners, colonial authorities, and the archive, Fuentes challenges the way we write histories of vulnerable and often invisible subjects.

Laboring Women

Author: Jennifer L. Morgan
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812206371
Format: PDF, Docs
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When black women were brought from Africa to the New World as slave laborers, their value was determined by their ability to work as well as their potential to bear children, who by law would become the enslaved property of the mother's master. In Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, Jennifer L. Morgan examines for the first time how African women's labor in both senses became intertwined in the English colonies. Beginning with the ideological foundations of racial slavery in early modern Europe, Laboring Women traverses the Atlantic, exploring the social and cultural lives of women in West Africa, slaveowners' expectations for reproductive labor, and women's lives as workers and mothers under colonial slavery. Challenging conventional wisdom, Morgan reveals how expectations regarding gender and reproduction were central to racial ideologies, the organization of slave labor, and the nature of slave community and resistance. Taking into consideration the heritage of Africans prior to enslavement and the cultural logic of values and practices recreated under the duress of slavery, she examines how women's gender identity was defined by their shared experiences as agricultural laborers and mothers, and shows how, given these distinctions, their situation differed considerably from that of enslaved men. Telling her story through the arc of African women's actual lives—from West Africa, to the experience of the Middle Passage, to life on the plantations—she offers a thoughtful look at the ways women's reproductive experience shaped their roles in communities and helped them resist some of the more egregious effects of slave life. Presenting a highly original, theoretically grounded view of reproduction and labor as the twin pillars of female exploitation in slavery, Laboring Women is a distinctive contribution to the literature of slavery and the history of women.

Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean

Author: Randy M. Browne
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812294270
Format: PDF
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Atlantic slave societies were notorious deathtraps. In Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean, Randy M. Browne looks past the familiar numbers of life and death and into a human drama in which enslaved Africans and their descendants struggled to survive against their enslavers, their environment, and sometimes one another. Grounded in the nineteenth-century British colony of Berbice, one of the Atlantic world's best-documented slave societies and the last frontier of slavery in the British Caribbean, Browne argues that the central problem for most enslaved people was not how to resist or escape slavery but simply how to stay alive. Guided by the voices of hundreds of enslaved people preserved in an extraordinary set of legal records, Browne reveals a world of Caribbean slavery that is both brutal and breathtakingly intimate. Field laborers invoked abolitionist-inspired legal reforms to protest brutal floggings, spiritual healers conducted secretive nighttime rituals, anxious drivers weighed the competing pressures of managers and the condition of their fellow slaves in the fields, and women fought back against abusive masters and husbands. Browne shows that at the core of enslaved people's complicated relationships with their enslavers and one another was the struggle to live in a world of death. Provocative and unflinching, Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean reorients the study of Atlantic slavery by revealing how differently enslaved people's social relationships, cultural practices, and political strategies appear when seen in the light of their unrelenting struggle to survive.

Death in the New World

Author: Erik R. Seeman
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812206002
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Reminders of death were everywhere in the New World, from the epidemics that devastated Indian populations and the mortality of slaves working the Caribbean sugar cane fields to the unfamiliar diseases that afflicted Europeans in the Chesapeake and West Indies. According to historian Erik R. Seeman, when Indians, Africans, and Europeans encountered one another, they could not ignore the similarities in their approaches to death. All of these groups believed in an afterlife to which the soul or spirit traveled after death. As a result all felt that corpses—the earthly vessels for the soul or spirit—should be treated with respect, and all mourned the dead with commemorative rituals. Seeman argues that deathways facilitated communication among peoples otherwise divided by language and custom. They observed, asked questions about, and sometimes even participated in their counterparts' rituals. At the same time, insofar as New World interactions were largely exploitative, the communication facilitated by parallel deathways was often used to influence or gain advantage over one's rivals. In Virginia, for example, John Smith used his knowledge of Powhatan deathways to impress the local Indians with his abilities as a healer as part of his campaign to demonstrate the superiority of English culture. Likewise, in the 1610-1614 war between Indians and English, the Powhatans mutilated English corpses because they knew this act would horrify their enemies. Told in a series of engrossing narratives, Death in the New World is a landmark study that offers a fresh perspective on the dynamics of cross-cultural encounters and their larger ramifications in the Atlantic world.

Colonial Complexions

Author: Sharon Block
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812250060
Format: PDF, Kindle
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How did descriptions of individuals' appearance reinforce emergent categories of race? In Colonial Complexions, more than 4000 advertisements for runaway slaves and servants reveal how colonists transformed seemingly observable characteristics into racist reality.

Women and Slavery in America

Author: Catherine M. Lewis
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
ISBN: 1557289581
Format: PDF, Docs
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Women and Slavery offers readers an opportunity to examine the establishment, growth, and evolution of slavery in the United States as it impacted women-enslaved and free, African American and white, wealthy and poor, northern and southern. The primary documents-including newspaper articles, broadsides, cartoons, pamphlets, speeches, photographs, memoirs, and editorials-are organized thematically and represent cultural, political, religious, economic, and social perspectives on this dark and complex period in American history.

A Centre of Wonders

Author: Janet Moore Lindman
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 1501717634
Format: PDF
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Images of bodies and bodily practices abound in early America: from spirit possession, Fasting Days, and infanticide to running the gauntlet, going "naked as a sign," flogging, bundling, and scalping. All have implications for the study of gender, sexuality, masculinity, illness, the "body politic," spirituality, race, and slavery. The first book devoted solely to the history and theory of the body in early American cultural studies brings together authors representing diverse academic disciplines. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources—including itinerant ministers' journals, Revolutionary tracts and broadsides, advice manuals, and household inventories—they approach the theoretical analysis of the body in exciting new ways. A Centre of Wonders covers such varied topics as dance and movement among Native Americans; invading witch bodies in architecture and household spaces; rituals of baptism, conversion, and church discipline; eighteenth-century women's journaling; and the body as a rhetorical device in the language of diplomacy.

Contested Bodies

Author: Sasha Turner
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812249186
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Contested Bodies explores how the end of the transatlantic trade impacted Jamaican slaves and their children. Examining the struggles for control over biological reproduction, Turner shows how central childbearing was to the organization of plantation work, the care of slaves, and the development of their culture.

Foul Bodies

Author: Kathleen M. Brown
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300160275
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A nation's standards of private cleanliness reveal much about its ideals of civilization, fears of disease, and expectations for public life, says Kathleen Brown in this unusual cultural history. Starting with the shake-up of European practices that coincided with Atlantic expansion, she traces attitudes toward dirt through the mid-nineteenth century, demonstrating that cleanliness--and the lack of it--had moral, religious, and often sexual implications. Brown contends that care of the body is not simply a private matter but an expression of cultural ideals that reflect the fundamental values of a society. The book explores early America's evolving perceptions of cleanliness, along the way analyzing the connections between changing public expectations for appearance and manners, and the backstage work of grooming, laundering, and housecleaning performed by women. Brown provides an intimate view of cleanliness practices and how such forces as urbanization, immigration, market conditions, and concerns about social mobility influenced them. Broad in historical scope and imaginative in its insights, this book expands the topic of cleanliness to encompass much larger issues, including religion, health, gender, class, and race relations.

Braided Relations Entwined Lives

Author: Cynthia M. Kennedy
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 0253111463
Format: PDF, ePub
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"[A] stunning, deeply researched, and gracefully written social history." -- Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa This study of women in antebellum Charleston, South Carolina, looks at the roles of women in an urban slave society. Cynthia M. Kennedy takes up issues of gender, race, condition (slave or free), and class and examines the ways each contributed to conveying and replicating power. She analyses what it meant to be a woman in a world where historically specific social classifications determined personal destiny and where at the same time people of color and white people mingled daily. Kennedy's study examines the lives of the women of Charleston and the variety of their attempts to negotiate the web of social relations that ensnared them.