Atlantic History Slavery and Gender
by
Mieko Nishida
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0083

Introduction

Slavery and gender is a relatively new topic in Atlantic history. Studies of slavery and gender developed somewhat independently from each other until the 1990s. In the emergence of “new social history” in the 1960s with its “bottom-up” approach, historically marginalized groups of people—such as women, slaves, workers, immigrants, and minorities—finally became a legitimate subject of study. Accordingly, studies on slave life, family, community, and culture began to emerge. At the same time, women’s history began to examine the historical importance of womanhood and women’s collective means of social and political empowerment. In such studies, slaves and women came to be depicted respectively as not passive but active participants in history making and agents of social changes despite the “peculiar institution” and/or the odds of patriarchy and sexism in the male-dominant society. In the 1980s, US feminist historians’ major works on slave and elite women during the slavery regime also began to appear. After the publication of Scott 1986 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies), “gender” began to replace “women” in the historical vocabulary. This was a reflection of the new paradigm shift in the history profession, as historians began to examine relatedness between opposing “groups” and/or contrasting categories under such terms as gender, race, class, and ethnicity rather than focusing on one group or category of people (such as women or slaves) who have been victimized, oppressed, and/or marginalized in history. Unfortunately, however, some scholars simply used the term “gender” interchangeably with “woman” and/or “sex.” In the late 1980s, and throughout the 1990s, many monographs and anthologies were published on women and slavery. Yet, since the mid-1990s, in accordance of the gradual establishment of “gender history,” scholarly attempts have been made to write gender into the history of slavery and to examine the “gendered” dimension of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic world, especially in the form of journal articles and book chapters. It is expected that many more scholarly monographs on the Atlantic world will appear in the near future, with a primary focus on slavery and gender. This article includes important works on Atlantic slavery, which deals with women and/or gender. Readers should be aware that “gender” takes on many meanings in the field of slavery.

General Overviews

David Barry Gasper and Darlene Clark Hine have coedited two informative anthologies on slavery and women in the Atlantic world (Gasper and Hine 1996, Gasper and Hine 2004). Terborg-Penn, et al. 1987 may be helpful in understanding women in Africa and the African diaspora. More recently a varied selection of papers presented at an international conference organized by Gwyn Campbell has been published as a two-volume anthology on women and world slavery (Campbell, et al. 2007). Scully and Patton 2005, an edited volume on gender and emancipation in the Atlantic world, is very helpful in understanding how historians have approached gender in their studies of slave emancipation. Eltis and Engerman 2011 offers important information on Atlantic slavery, including its gendered dimensions. In addition, there have been excellent quantitative studies on the demography of enslaved peoples, in relation to sex ratios, fertility, mortality, sexual division of labor, and gender relations in Latin American and Caribbean slavery (Klein 2010, Klein and Vinson 2007). Such quantitative studies have also touched on slave marriage, family, kinship, and community.

  • Campbell, Gwyn, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. Women and Slavery. 2 vols. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007.

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    This is a two-volume anthology on enslaved women in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While the first volume is focused on Africa, the Indian Ocean world, and the medieval North Atlantic, the second one covers the modern Atlantic world. It concludes with two historiographical essays: Claire Robertson and Marsha Robinson, “Re-modeling Slavery as if Women Mattered”; and Joseph C. Miller, “Domiciled, and Dominated: Slaving as a History of Women.”

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    • Eltis, David, and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. The Cambridge World History of Slavery. Vol. 3, AD 1420–AD 1804. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

      DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521840682E-mail Citation »

      Collection of essays exploring important aspects of slavery in Africa, Asia, and the Americas from the opening of the Atlantic world to the independence of Haiti. Touches on gender, slave resistance, demography, law, and the economics of slavery.

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      • Gasper, David Barry, and Darlene Clark Hine, eds. More than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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        Anthology of fifteen well-researched scholarly essays on slave women, starting with the chapter by the Africanist Clair Robertson: “Africa into the Americas? Slavery and Women, the Family, and the Gender Division of Labor.” Others are focused on enslaved and free women of African descent in Brazil, mainland British America, and the French and British Caribbean.

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        • Gasper, David Barry, and Darlene Clark Hine, eds. Beyond Bondage: Free Women of Color in the Americas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

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          Collection of fourteen essays centering on maroon, freed, and free-born women of African descent in the Spanish and French Caribbean, Jamaica, the US South, Suriname, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.

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          • Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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            Quantitative analyses of the transatlantic slave trade, with reference to sex ratios and gender in relation to labor organization both in indigenous African slave systems and in New World plantation slavery. Useful undergraduate textbook on Atlantic slavery.

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            • Klein, Herbert S., and Ben Vinson. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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              Useful textbook with an updated bibliography for undergraduate courses dealing with Atlantic slavery, with a good overview of African slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean from the 16th century until abolition. Provides the reader with basic knowledge on gender and family kinship in Latin American slavery.

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              • Scully, Pamela, and Diana Paton, eds. Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

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                Comprises fourteen historical essays with a gendered approach to slave emancipation in the 19th-century Atlantic world, including Paton’s “Bibliographical Essay,” which is an excellent historiography of slavery, abolition, emancipation, in relation to women and gender in the Atlantic world.

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                • Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn, Sharon Hurley, and Andrea Benton Rushing, eds. Women in Africa and the African Diaspora. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1987.

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                  Collection of essays that examine women in Africa and the African diaspora.

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                  Reference Works and Bibliographies

                  One needs to take a close look at reference works and bibliographies on slavery and slave trade to see how gender has been analyzed and incorporated in the historiography of slavery in the Atlantic world. Extensive bibliography on world slavery compiled by Joseph C. Miller and his collaborators over several decades are available both in print (Miller 1985 and Miller 1993, as well as the annual updates published in the journal Slavery and Abolition, cited under Journals) and its updated online database Bibliography of Slavery and World Slaving. Paul Finkelman and Miller also co-edited an encyclopedia of world slavery (Finkelman and Miller 1998). These bibliographies and encyclopedias are, of course, not focused on slavery and gender, but they can be used as an effective tool to look for secondary sources that examine and/or incorporate gender. Scott 1986 remains essential reading for those who study gender in slavery. Caulfield 2000 offers excellent bibliographical information on studies of slavery in the context of Latin American women’s and gender history. In addition, Atlantic Slave Data Network (ASDN) is useful in identifying the enslaved in the Atlantic world.

                  • Atlantic Slave Data Network (ASDN)

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                    Database of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic world, with Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and Walter Hawthorne as its principal investigators.

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                    • Bibliography of Slavery and World Slaving

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                      Searchable database on slavery and world slaving, directed by Joseph C. Miller, containing verified references to approximately 25,000 scholarly works (books, articles, book chapters, masters and doctoral dissertations, and conference papers) in European languages since 1900.

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                      • Caulfield, Sueann. “The History of Gender in the Historiography of Latin America.” Hispanic American Historical Review 81.3–4 (August–November 2000): 449–490.

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                        This excellent historiographical essay locates historical studies on slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of Latin American women’s history and gender history.

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                        • Finkelman, Paul, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery. New York: Macmillan Reference, 1998.

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                          A comprehensive encyclopedia on world slavery, edited by two authorities on slavery in law and history.

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                          • Miller, Joseph C. Slavery: A Worldwide Bibliography, 1900–1982. White Plains, NY: Kraus International, 1985.

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                            Comprehensive bibliography on slavery in world history published from 1900 to 1982.

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                            • Miller, Joseph C. Slavery and Slaving in World History: A Bibliography, 1900–1991. Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1993.

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                              Bibliography on slavery and slaving that updates Miller 1985.

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                              • Scott, Joan W. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” American Historical Review 91.5 (December 1986): 1053–1075.

                                DOI: 10.2307/1864376E-mail Citation »

                                Essential reading on gender in historical studies.

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                                Primary Sources

                                In recent years many important primary sources on slavery in mainland North America and the United States and the transatlantic slave trade have been digitized and become available as CD-ROMs (Eltis, et al. 1999) and online databases (Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas; Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938; Digital Library on American Slavery; The Freedmen’s Bureau Online; The Louisiana Slave Database and the Louisiana Free Database; New-York Historical Society, Slavery Collections). Such primary sources in English, especially the collections of slave and ex-slave narratives, can be effectively used for research on slavery and gender in the English-speaking Atlantic world, depending on its focus. For the non–English-speaking Atlantic world, collections of primary sources translated into English, such as Conrad 1983 and McKnight and Garofalo 2009, are an excellent introduction to undergraduate research. Also such extensive online databases as Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies are a valuable source for not only undergraduate but also graduate and professional research on slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and Colombia. Yet, it is still necessary for graduate students and professional researchers to travel for archival research on slavery and gender in the Atlantic world, as many important primary sources are available only on site. One needs to “read” gender in the combination of various primary sources on slavery, both qualitative and quantitative, especially where there is not a single set of data on such a topic covering any specific time and space.

                                • Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas

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                                  Extensive media database on the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas compiled by Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tulte at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

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                                  • Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938

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                                    Contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves, collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

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                                    • Conrad, Robert Edgar, ed. Children of God’s Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

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                                      Collection of important and various primary sources on black slavery in Brazil, translated and edited by Roger Edgar Conrad. Very useful as an introduction to undergraduate research on African slavery in Brazil.

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                                      • Digital Library on American Slavery

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                                        Searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of African descent, based on petitions to Southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867. Maintained at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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                                        • Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies

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                                          Directed by Jane Landers of Vanderbilt University, this digital database on slavery contains nearly 300,000 ecclesiastical and secular documents on slavery from major archives in Brazil, Cuba, and Colombia.

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                                          • Eltis, David, Stephen D. Behrendt, David Richardson, and Herbert S. Klein. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                            Contains records of 27,233 transatlantic slave ship voyages made between 1595 and 1866. It tracks information by time period and geographic region and contains information about people onboard, owners and captains, ships’ characteristics, and the geographic trajectory of each voyage.

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                                            • The Freedmen’s Bureau Online

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                                              Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, which was established by the War Department on 3 March 1865. Contains information on relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing, and medicine, and custody records of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.

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                                              • The Louisiana Slave Database and the Louisiana Free Database: 1719–1820

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                                                Useful database on African American history in Louisiana and genealogy, directed by Gwendolyn Mildo Hall.

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                                                • McKnight, Kathryn Joy, and Leo Garofalo, eds. Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550–1812. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009.

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                                                  Collection of primary sources on Africans and Afro-Latin Americans, both women and men, enslaved and free. Those sources include official letters and legal documents, such as wills and petitions dictated (or more rarely self-written) to a third party, as well as records from Spanish American interrogations and inquisitions of African and Afro-Latin Americans. The editors present the primaries in their original Spanish and Portuguese together with their English translations.

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                                                  • New-York Historical Society, Slavery Collections.

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                                                    Digitized manuscript materials documenting American slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world: diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers, and records of institutions.

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                                                    Journals

                                                    To this day, Slavery and Abolition is the only journal that specializes in world slavery across regions and time periods, with many articles on slavery and women/gender sometimes published in its special issues. All the other scholarly journals that publish on slavery and gender can be divided into two categories: journals in history and area studies that publish on slavery, sometimes in relation to women and/or gender (Afro-Ásia, Journal of African History, Journal of Caribbean Studies, Hispanic American Historical Review, The William and Mary Quarterly) and those in women’s and gender history studies, which publish occasionally on slavery and emancipation (Gender and History, Journal of Women’s History).

                                                    Africa

                                                    Many important works on slavery and women in Africa have been published as book chapters in Robertson and Klein 1997; Campbell, et al. 2007; Gasper and Hine 1996; and Gasper and Hine 2004 (cited under General Overviews). Lovejoy 1988, Mason 2003, Scully 1997, and Sikainga 1998 examine women and gender in the transition from slavery to freedom. Wright 1993 uses life history to examine gender inequalities in slavery and emancipation.

                                                    • Lovejoy, Paul E. “Concubinage and the Status of Women Slaves in Early Colonial Northern Nigeria.” Journal of African History 29.2 (1988): 245–266.

                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700023665E-mail Citation »

                                                      Based on his meticulous study of court records from 1905–1906, Lovejoy examines the status of female slaves in northern Nigeria, who continued to be sexually exploited in the name of concubinage under British colonial rule.

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                                                      • Mason, John Edwin. Social Death and Resurrection: Slavery and Emancipation in South Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003.

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                                                        Discusses gender in slaveowners’ as well as slaves’ households in the late period of slavery in South Africa.

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                                                        • Robertson, Claire C., and Martin A. Klein, eds. Women and Slavery in Africa. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997.

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                                                          Collection of a dozen pioneering essays by distinguished historians of Africa on the importance of women in slavery and the slave trade. Originally published in 1983 by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                          • Scully, Pamela. Liberating the Family? Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823–1853. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997.

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                                                            Scully argues that the British emancipation of slaves transformed enslaved women into unequal citizens in the case of the Rural Western Cape of South Africa.

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                                                            • Sikainga, Ahmad Alawad. Slaves into Workers: Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

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                                                              This monograph explores the process of emancipation and the development of wage labor in the Sudan under British colonial rule, starting in 1898. Illustrates difficulties female slaves faced in obtaining free status.

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                                                              • Wright, Marcia. Strategies of Slaves and Women: Life Stories from East/Central Africa. New York: L. Barber, 1993.

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                                                                Wright’s ethnography brings to light the stories of ex-slave women in a part of east central Africa to illustrate gender inequalities before and after 1900.

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                                                                Mainland North America

                                                                Since the mid-1980s a large body of literature has been produced on slavery and women/gender in the US South. Most notably, White 1999 (originally published in 1985) is a pioneering work on slave women, and Jones 1985 is a monograph on labor history, focusing on African American women. A few years later Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, a noted feminist historian, published a monograph on white and black women in the antebellum plantation slave society (see Fox-Genovese 1988). The literature may be divided into two categories of studies: those whose topics include enslaved women in the field of women’s and gender history (Brown 1996, Weiner 1997) and studies of women in African American history (Stevenson 1996, Camp 2004). Wood 1995 is a monograph that examines the slave economy in Lowcountry Georgia, with focus on gender.

                                                                • Brown, Kathleen. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

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                                                                  This prize-winning study on colonial Virginia examines gender and gender relations in relation to race in the development of a patriarchal slave society.

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                                                                  • Camp, Stephanie M. H. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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                                                                    This excellent monograph focuses on the antebellum South and examines the multiple dimensions of resistance in plantation slavery, focusing on the importance of slave women.

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                                                                    • Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

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                                                                      Argues that in the antebellum South, both women slaveholders and slave women rooted their identities in the plantation household, despite their different positions in the slave society.

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                                                                      • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

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                                                                        Prize-winning historical monograph in African American women’s labor history in slavery and freedom, with special emphasis on family.

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                                                                        • Stevenson, Brenda. Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                          Examines gender and gender relations in black and white families in the South during the slavery regime.

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                                                                          • Weiner, Marli F. Mistresses and Slaves: Plantation Women in South Carolina, 1830–1880. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

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                                                                            Focused on the large plantations of rice and cotton in South Carolina, Weinter examines how gender and race played out in the daily lives of white mistresses and black slave women.

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                                                                            • White, Deborah Gray. Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South. 2d ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

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                                                                              Pioneering work (originally published in 1985) on slave women in the plantation South, examining their special roles in the family and community.

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                                                                              • Wood, Betty. Women’s Work, Men’s Work: The Informal Slave Economies of Lowcountry Georgia, 1750–1830. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995.

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                                                                                Important work on slave life and gender relations in the slave community of Lowcountry Georgia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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                                                                                The Caribbean

                                                                                Exemplified by Elsa Goveia (b. 1920–d. 1985), who was appointed as the very first woman professor at the University of West Indies at Mona in 1961, there have been numerous important studies on Caribbean slavery from a Caribbean perspective. Goveia’s own graduate student Lucille Mathurin Mair became the first historian of slavery and women in the Caribbean with the completion of her doctoral dissertation in 1975 (Mair 2006). In the 1980s studies of women and slavery peaked in Caribbean history, with three major monographs appearing in print around the same time (Beckles 1989, Morrissey 1989, Bush 1990), followed by Moitt 2001 on women and slavery in the French Antilles. Among non-Caribbean Caribbeanists, Martinez-Alier 1989, a monograph on marriage and honor in Cuba’s slave society, remains an influential work in studies on slavery and gender in Latin American and Caribbean history. A superb monograph, Dubois 2004 adds excellent information to the discussion on the gendered dimension of slavery in the French Caribbean. Sensbach 2006 examines gender in Caribbean slavery by focusing the life of Rebecca Protten.

                                                                                • Beckles, Hilary. Natural Rebels: A History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                  A labor history that presents black slave women as “natural rebels” in Barbados, where the author claims enslaved women outnumbered their male counterparts.

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                                                                                  • Bush, Barbara. Slave Women in Caribbean Society 1650–1838. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                    Examines the complexities of black slave women’s historical experiences in relation to gender, race, and class in the case of Jamaica and other Anglophone colonies.

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                                                                                    • Dubois, Laurent. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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                                                                                      An excellent historical study that examines intricate gender relations among slaves and free people of color in revolutionary Guadalupe, even though gender is not the main focus of this particular monograph.

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                                                                                      • Mair, Lucille Mathurin. Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655–1844. Edited by Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd. Kingston: University of Indies Press, 2006.

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                                                                                        Mair’s doctoral dissertation (1975), edited by two of her students for publication. Mair meticulously examines gender in relation to class, race, and color in Jamaica’s slave society in her pioneering work on women and slavery in the Caribbean.

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                                                                                        • Martinez-Alier, Verena. Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Attitude and Sexual Values in a Slave Society. 2d ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.

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                                                                                          This anthropological study on 19th-century Cuba examines how gendered honor codes were among slaves, free people of color, and slave-owning colonial elites in the society. First published in 1972.

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                                                                                          • Moitt, Bernard. Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635–1848. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                            Uncovers and reconstructs slave women’s lives in France’s Caribbean colonies. It examines plantation labor, domestic labor, marriage, family life, reproduction and assault, resistance, and manumission over two centuries until the mid-19th century.

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                                                                                            • Morrissey, Marietta. Slave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribbean. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

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                                                                                              Sociological synthesis with a Marxist perspective of slave women’s gendered experiences in the British, Dutch, French, and Danish Caribbean.

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                                                                                              • Sensbach, John. Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                Sensbach meticulously reconstructs the life of Rebecca Protten, who was once a slave on St. Thomas and became a famous evangelist after gaining freedom. This monograph includes important information on not only slavery and freedom in the 18th-century Caribbean but also gender and gender relations in the Atlantic world.

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                                                                                                Mainland Spanish America

                                                                                                The majority of mainland Spanish America did not depend on slavery as their dominant mode of production and therefore did not turn into “slave societies” (by the definition of Moses I. Finley), as in the case of Brazil, the Caribbean, and the antebellum South. There has been a good number of studies on slavery in mainland Spanish America, with some reference to women and/or gender, including Acosta 1984, Aguirre 1993, and Barrios 1999. Hënefeldt 1994 is a monograph that meticulously examines slavery, gender, race, and ethnicity in Lima, Peru during the early 19th century. Helg 2004 discusses urban slavery and gender in Caribbean Colombia for her discussion of race and identity. Owensby 2005 analyzes court records to illustrate how enslaved men and women attempted to obtain freedom in 16th-century New Spain, whereas Van Deusen 2004 examines slavery and gender in relation to religion and religiosity in 17th-century Lima.

                                                                                                • Acosta, Miguel Saignes. Vida de los esclavos negros en Venezuela. Valencia, Venezuela: Vadell Hermanos, 1984.

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                                                                                                  Examines women’s lives in black slavery in Venezuela, through marriage, family, and abuse.

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                                                                                                  • Aguirre, Carolos. Agentes de su propia libertad: Los esclavos y la desintegracion de la esclavitud, 1821–1854. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, 1993.

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                                                                                                    Setting in early republican Lima, Aguirre argues that slaves had their own agency to abolish slavery in 1854. Limited treatment of gender in Peruvian slavery and abolition.

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                                                                                                    • Barrios, Lourdes Mondragon. Esclavos Africanos en la Ciudad de México: El servicio domestico durante el siglo XVI. Mexico City: INAH, 1999.

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                                                                                                      Examines African slaves, both women and men, who worked in domestic service in Mexico during the 19th century.

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                                                                                                      • Helg, Aline. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770–1835. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                        Though not focused on gender itself, this prize-winning historical monograph on race in Colombia during the revolutionary period examines gender and gender relations in urban slavery in Caribbean Colombia.

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                                                                                                        • Hënefeldt, Christine. Paying the Price of Freedom: Family and Labor among Lima’s Slaves, 1800–1854. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                          Illustrates gender relations and family life among slaves in Lima, Peru, during the early 19th century.

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                                                                                                          • Owensby, Brian P. “How Juan and Leonor Won Their Freedom: Litigation and Liberty in Seventeenth-Century Mexico.” Hispanic American Historical Review 85:1 (February 2005): 39–79.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1215/00182168-85-1-39E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Owensby examines how a group of slave women and men sued to gain their freedom in court in colonial New Spain during the late 17th century.

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                                                                                                            • Van Deusen, Nancy, ed. The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesús. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                              Van Deusen does a superb job in translating and editing the diary of the famous Afro-Peruvian woman mystic Ursula de Jesus (b. 1604–d. 1666), who was born in slavery in Lima and entered a convent at age thirteen. She examines female spirituality and racial and gender inequalities in colonial Peru.

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                                                                                                              Brazil

                                                                                                              There have been numerous studies on Brazilian slavery by Brazilian scholars, for both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Kátia M. de Queirós Mattoso (Mattoso 1986) and her graduate students at the Federal University of Bahia have exhausted all archival sources for their studies on slavery in Bahia. On the other hand, Iraci del Nero da Costa and Francisco Vida Luna (Luna, et al. 2009), among other economists and economic historians from the University of São Paulo, have studied extensive qualitative data on slavery, slave family, and slaveholding patterns in 18th-century Minas Gerais and 19th-century São Paulo. Both groups of scholars have examined women or gender in Brazilian slavery but neither have placed them at the center of their discussions. Mary C. Karasch’s legendary doctoral dissertation on urban slavery in Rio de Janeiro was completed in 1974 and was published several years later as a monograph (Karasch 1987). Karasch’s work has made a tremendous impact on the following generations of historians for their studies on Brazilian slavery with a focus on women and gender. Grinberg 1994 examines a court case in which a slave woman fought for her freedom, whereas Lauderdale Graham 2002 reconstructs the story of a slave woman who fought patriarchy in the slave community to escape from slavery. Both Higgins 1999, a study on manumission, and Furtado 2009, a work on Chica da Silva, focus on gender in the slave society of 18th-century Minas Gerais. Nishida’s monograph on Salvador da Bahia (Nishida 2003) discusses gender and gender identity in urban slavery during the 19th century.

                                                                                                              • Furtado, Júnia Ferreira. Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                Depicts the legendry slave woman named Francisca da Silva, who moved up on a social ladder in the mining town of Tijuco of Minas Gerais.

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                                                                                                                • Grinberg, Keila. Liberata, a lei da ambiguidade: As ações de liberdade da Corte de Apelação do Rio de Janeiro no século XIX. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumará, 1994.

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                                                                                                                  Examines the case of a slave woman’s appeal to court in pursuit of freedom, which took place in 19th-century Rio de Janeiro.

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                                                                                                                  • Higgins, Kathleen J. “Licentious Liberty” in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender, and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                    Demonstrates how distinctively gender determined patterns of manumission in the mining town of 18th-century Minas Gerais during the golden age of Brazil.

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                                                                                                                    • Karasch, Mary C. Slave Life in Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                      Prize-winning masterpiece that meticulously depicts urban slave life in Rio de Janeiro, capital of Brazil and an important Atlantic port city, during the early 19th century before the termination of the transatlantic slave trade. Karasch illustrates how slave women and men found or created opportunities in urban slavery to advance themselves in some way.

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                                                                                                                      • Lauderdale Graham, Sandra. Caetana Says No: Women’s Stories from a Brazilian Slave Society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                        Based on her meticulous archival research in Brazil, Lauderdale Graham reconstructs the sharply contrasting stories of two women, a slave and an elite slaveowner, who lived under patriarchy in the coffee plantation society of 19th-century Brazil.

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                                                                                                                        • Luna, Francisco Vida, Iraci del Nero da Costa, and Herbert S. Klein. Escravismo em São Paulo e Minas Gerais. São Paulo: Impresnsa Oficial and EDUSP, 2009.

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                                                                                                                          Most of the chapters in this book are the revised versions of the authors’ previous published articles and book chapters. But along with many valuable photos, the book provides an excellent overview of slavery in São Paulo and Minas Gerais in relation to gender.

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                                                                                                                          • Mattoso, Kátia M. To be a Slave in Brazil, 1550–1888. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                            Synthesis of Brazilian slavery from the perspective of the enslaved, starting with enslavement in Africa, the Middle Passage, becoming a slave in Brazil, and gaining freedom through manumission. Limited treatment of women and gender in Brazilian slavery.

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                                                                                                                            • Nishida, Mieko. Slavery and Identity: Ethnicity, Gender, and Race in Salvador, Brazil, 1808–1888. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                              Examines how gender was constructed in urban slavery and what important roles gender played in relation to ethnicity and race for identity formation among persons of African descent in slavery and freedom.

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