Front cover image for Conceiving freedom : women of color, gender, and the abolition of slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

Conceiving freedom : women of color, gender, and the abolition of slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

"In Conceiving Freedom, Camillia Cowling shows how gender shaped urban routes to freedom for the enslaved during the process of gradual emancipation in Cuba and Brazil, which occurred only after the rest of Latin America had abolished slavery and even after the American Civil War. Focusing on late nineteenth-century Havana and Rio de Janeiro, Cowling argues that enslaved women played a dominant role in carving out freedom for themselves and their children through the courts. Cowling examines how women, typically illiterate but with access to scribes, instigated myriad successful petitions for emancipation, often using "free-womb" laws that declared that the children of enslaved women were legally free. She reveals how enslaved women's struggles connected to abolitionist movements in each city and the broader Atlantic World, mobilizing new notions about enslaved and free womanhood. She shows how women conceived freedom and then taught the "free-womb" generation to understand and shape the meaning of that freedom. Even after emancipation, freed women would continue to use these claims-making tools as they struggled to establish new spaces for themselves and their families in post emancipation society"-- Provided by publisher
Print Book, English, 2013
The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2013
xiii, 326 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
9781469610870, 9781469610887, 9781469610894, 1469610876, 1469610884, 1469610892
Part I. Gender, Law, and Urban Slavery
Sites of Enslavement, Spaces of Freedom : Slavery and Abolition in the Atlantic Cities of Havana and Rio de Janeiro
The Law Is Final, Excellent Sir : Slave Law, Gender, and Gradual Emancipation
Part II. Seeking Freedom
As a Slave Woman and as a Mother : Law, Jurisprudence, and Rhetoric in Stories from Women's Claims-Making
Exaggerated and Sentimental? : Engendering Abolitionism in the Atlantic World
I Wish to Be in This City : Mapping Women's Quest for Urban Freedom
Part III. Conceiving Freedom
Enlightened Mothers of Families or Competent Domestic Servants? : Elites Imagine the Meanings of Freedom
She Was Now a Free Woman : Ex-Slave Women and the Meanings of Urban Freedom
My Mother Was Free-Womb, She Wasn't a Slave : Conceiving Freedom
Epilogue: Conceiving Citizenship