Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive

Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive

by Marisa J. Fuentes


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812224184
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press - University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date: 03/12/2018
Series: Early American Studies
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 483,815
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Marisa J. Fuentes is Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and History at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Jane: Fugitivity, Space, and Structures of Control in Bridgetown 13

Chapter 2 Rachael and Joanna: Power, Historical Figuring, and Troubling Freedom 46

Chapter 3 Agatha: White Women, Slave Owners, and the Dialectic of Racialized Gender 70

Chapter 4 Molly: Enslaved Women, Condemnation, and Gendered Terror 100

Chapter 5 "Venus": Abolition Discourse, Gendered Violence, and the Archive 124

Epilogue 144

Notes 149

Index 205

Acknowledgments 213

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