Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World

Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: 1 map Published: October 2005

Gender and Sexuality, History > World History, Latin American Studies

This groundbreaking collection provides the first comparative history of gender and emancipation in the Atlantic world. Bringing together essays on the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, West Africa and South Africa, and the Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean, it shows that emancipation was a profoundly gendered process, produced through connections between race, gender, sexuality, and class. Contributors from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, and Brazil explore how the processes of emancipation involved the re-creation of gender identities—the production of freedmen and freedwomen with different rights, responsibilities, and access to citizenship.

Offering detailed analyses of slave emancipation in specific societies, the contributors discuss all of the diverse actors in emancipation: slaves, abolitionists, free people of color, state officials, and slave owners. Whether considering the construction of a postslavery masculine subjectivity in Jamaica, the work of two white U.S. abolitionist women with the Freedmen’s Bureau after the Civil War, freedwomen’s negotiations of labor rights in Puerto Rico, slave women’s contributions to the slow unraveling of slavery in French West Africa, or the ways that Brazilian abolitionists deployed representations of femininity as virtuous and moral, these essays demonstrate the gains that a gendered approach offers to understanding the complex processes of emancipation. Some chapters also explore theories and methodologies that enable a gendered reading of postslavery archives. The editors’ substantial introduction traces the reasons for and patterns of women’s and men’s different experiences of emancipation throughout the Atlantic world.

Contributors. Martha Abreu, Sheena Boa, Bridget Brereton, Carol Faulkner, Roger Kittleson, Martin Klein, Melanie Newton, Diana Paton, Sue Peabody, Richard Roberts, Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva, Hannah Rosen, Pamela Scully, Mimi Sheller, Marek Steedman, Michael Zeuske


“[Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World] is a welcome addition to the literature on gender, slavery and colonialism, and it can be used fruitfully at different levels by undergraduates, research students and scholars.” — Kenneth Morgan, History

“[A] must-read for scholars of the Atlantic world, gender history, colonial studies, and comparative slavery and emancipation. The clearly written introduction and tightly edited chapters are suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students, while the bibilographic essay is a good starting point to the historiography of some of the major debates.” — Kerry Ward, International Journal of African Historical Studies

“[A] significant contribution to scholarship. The book’s ambitious scope offers historians of the United States much to consider regarding what was specific to this country and what was inherent in emancipation itself, embedded as it was in liberal—and masculinist—thought.” — Marli F. Weiner, Journal of Southern History

“[A] thought-provoking collection of essays . . . valuable for its discussions of divergent gender ideals among men and women slaves, elites and non-elites, planters, abolitionists, and missionaries. It is most important for its descriptions of the efforts of former slaves to contest and define what it meant to be free and male, versus free and female, in the aftermath of emancipation.” — Kathleen Higgins, American Historical Review

“This collection is a valuable contribution to the historiography of post-slave societies. . . . The volume includes a very useful and comprehensive bibliographical essay by Diana Paton. . . . All articles are based on innovative research, provide useful conclusions and are, in the main, well-written and jargon-free. . .” — Barbara Bush, Women's History Review

“Based on its wide range of sources, very useful introduction, and strong bibliographic content, this incisive collection projects emancipation as a dynamic process of transformation in which gender issues have been made prominent. Consequently, this book demonstrates the important contribution that a gendered approach can make and significantly advances the scholarship of this period.” — Rita Pemberton, Signs

“Overall, this is an indispensable collection, lucidly written and coherently arranged, which will be of immense value to all scholars and students of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic world, whatever their particular regional specialty. . . . I am sure that its fascinating content and sophisticated approach will inspire much further innovative research. This is a model of what an edited collection can achieve.” — Clare Midgley, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Scully and Paton have crafted a remarkable book that should enjoy a wide audience in the fields of history, the social sciences, Atlantic studies, as well as women and gender studies. Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World is well written. The volume is exceedingly rich, presenting an immense quantity of new ideas and interpretations on a well-chronicled subject. It can be a useful guide in interdisciplinary studies.” — Ashton Wesley Welch, Itinerario

“This anthology links Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States in its analysis of the role of gender in creating new social orders after the end of slavery. Taken together, the essays are clear, compelling, complex, and ultimately unsettling in their evocation of a past filled with hope for great change and largely effective struggles for its containment.” — Eileen Findlay, author of Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920

“This innovative volume highlights the quite different ways in which men and women achieved freedom and faced the possibility of citizenship in postemancipation societies. By examining ideologies of gender as well as differences in experiences, the contributing authors broaden our understanding of emancipation as a transformative process. By placing women of color at the center of the analysis, moreover, many of these authors develop a new picture of the dynamics of emancipation.” — Rebecca Scott, author of Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Pamela Scully has a joint appointment in the Department of Women’s Studies and the Institute of African Studies at Emory University. She is the author of Liberating the Family? Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823–1853.

Diana Paton is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle. She is the author of No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780–1870 and the editor of A Narrative of Events, since the First of August, 1834, by James Williams, an Apprenticed Labourer in Jamaica, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Maps vii

Introduction: Gender and Slave Emancipation in Comparative Perspective / Diana Paton and Pamela Scully 1

Part I. Men, Women, Citizens 35

Masculinity, Citizenship, and the Production of Knowledge in the Postemancipation Cape Colony, 1834–1844 / Pamela Scully 37

Négresse, Mulâtresse, Citoyenne: Gender and Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1650–1848 / Sue Peabody 56

Acting as Free Men: Subaltern Masculinities and Citizenship in Postslavery Jamaica / Mimi Sheller 79

Women and Notions of Womanhood in Brazilian Abolitionism / Roger A. Kittleson 99

A Nation’s Sin: White Women and U.S. Policy toward Freedpeople / Carol Faulkner 121

Part II. Families, Land, and Labor 141

Family Strategies, Gender, and the Shift to Wage Labor in the British Caribbean / Bridget Brereton 143

Gender and Emancipation in French West Africa / Martin Klein and Richard Roberts 162

Two Stories of Gender and Slave Emancipation in Cienfuegos and Santa Clara, Central Cuba: A Microhistorical Approach to the Atlantic World / Michael Zeuske 181

Libertos and Libertas in the Construction of the Free Worker in Postemancipation Puerto Rico / Ileana Rodriguez-Silva 199

Part III. The Public Sphere in the Age of Emancipation 223

Philanthropy, Gender, and the Production of Public Life in Barbados, ca. 1790–ca. 1850 / Melanie Newton 225

Young Ladies and Dissolute Women: Conflicting Views of Culture and Gender in Public Entertainment, Kingstown, St. Vincent, 1838–1888 / Sheena Boa 247

Mulatas, Crioulos, and Morenas: Racial Hierarchy, Gender Relations, and National Identity in Postabolition Popular Song: Southeastern Brazil, 1890—1920 / Martha Abreu (translated from the Portuguese by Amy Chazkel and Junia Claudia Zaidan) 267

The Rhetoric of Miscegenation and the Reconstruction of Race: Debating Marriage, Sex, and Citizenship in Postemancipation Arkansas / Hannah Rosen 289

Gender and the Politics of the Household in Reconstruction Louisiana, 1865–1878 / Marek Steedman 310

Bibliographic Essay / Diana Paton 328

Contributors 357

Index 361
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3594-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3581-8
Publicity material