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Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in the Old South, Stephanie M.H. Camp examines the everyday containment and movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information, she extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition. Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that might otherwise appear to be little more than fits of temper. She brings new depth to our understanding of the lives of enslaved women, whose bodies and homes were inevitably political arenas. Through Camp's insight, truancy becomes an act of pursuing personal privacy. Illegal parties (''frolics'') become an expression of bodily freedom. And bondwomen who acquired printed abolitionist materials and posted them on the walls of their slave cabins (even if they could not read them) become the subtle agitators who inspire more overt acts. The culture of opposition created by enslaved women's everyday resistance helped foment and sustain the more visible resistance of men in the individual act of running away and in the collective action of slave revolts. Ultimately, Camp argues, the Civil War years saw revolutionary change that had been in the making for decades.
Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in the Old South, Stephanie M.H. Camp examines the everyday containment and movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information, she extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition. Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that might otherwise appear to be little more than fits of temper. She brings new depth to our understanding of the lives of enslaved women, whose bodies and homes were inevitably political arenas. Through Camp's insight, truancy becomes an act of pursuing personal privacy. Illegal parties (''frolics'') become an expression of bodily freedom. And bondwomen who acquired printed abolitionist materials and posted them on the walls of their slave cabins (even if they could not read them) become the subtle agitators who inspire more overt acts. The culture of opposition created by enslaved women's everyday resistance helped foment and sustain the more visible resistance of men in the individual act of running away and in the collective action of slave revolts. Ultimately, Camp argues, the Civil War years saw revolutionary change that had been in the making for decades. ''Sensitive, bold, and imaginative, Closer to Freedom is the first book to place black women at the center of everyday resistance to bondage.'' DOUGLES R. EGERTON Le Moyne College ''This book skillfully brings into view clandestine pocketsephemeral but resilientin which enslaved women, in particular, struggled to sustain a rival geography' in which powers of mastery could be held at bay.
Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in the Old South, Stephanie Camp examines the everyday containment and movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information, Camp extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition. Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that might otherwise appear to be little more than fits of temper. She brings new depth to our understanding of the lives of enslaved women, whose bodies and homes were inevitably political arenas. Through Camp's insight, truancy becomes an act of pursuing personal privacy. Illegal parties ("frolics") become an expression of bodily freedom. And bondwomen who acquired printed abolitionist materials and posted them on the walls of their slave cabins (even if they could not read them) become the subtle agitators who inspire more overt acts. The culture of opposition created by enslaved women's acts of everyday resistance helped foment and sustain the more visible resistance of men in their individual acts of running away and in the collective action of slave revolts. Ultimately, Camp argues, the Civil War years saw revolutionary change that had been in the making for decades.
Explores the contributions made by enslaved women to the family's economy and suggests they achieved a greater degree of equality with their men than white women
The plantation household was, first and foremost, a site of production. This fundamental fact has generally been overshadowed by popular and scholarly images of the plantation household as the source of slavery's redeeming qualities, where 'gentle' mistresses ministered to 'loyal' slaves. This book recounts a very different story. The very notion of a private sphere, as divorced from the immoral excesses of chattel slavery as from the amoral logic of market laws, functioned to conceal from public scrutiny the day-to-day struggles between enslaved women and their mistresses, subsumed within a logic of patriarchy. One of emancipation's unsung consequences was precisely the exposure to public view of the unbridgeable social distance between the women on whose labor the plantation household relied and the women who employed them. This is a story of race and gender, nation and citizenship, freedom and bondage in the nineteenth century South; a big abstract story that is composed of equally big personal stories.
"The black experience in the antebellum South has been thoroughly documented. But histories set in the North are few. In the Shadow of Slavery, then, is a big and ambitious book, one in which insights about race and class in New York City abound. Leslie Harris has masterfully brought more than two centuries of African American history back to life in this illuminating new work."—David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century "Negro Burial Ground." Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation's largest city. In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers. Written with clarity and grace, In the Shadow of Slavery is an ambitious new work that will prove indispensable to historians of the African American experience, as well as anyone interested in the history of New York City.
Life in the old South has always fascinated Americans--whether in the mythical portrayals of the planter elite from fiction such as Gone With the Wind or in historical studies that look inside the slave cabin. Now Brenda E. Stevenson presents a reality far more gripping than popular legend, even as she challenges the conventional wisdom of academic historians. Life in Black and White provides a panoramic portrait of family and community life in and around Loudoun County, Virginia--weaving the fascinating personal stories of planters and slaves, of free blacks and poor-to-middling whites, into a powerful portrait of southern society from the mid-eighteenth century to the Civil War. Loudoun County and its vicinity encapsulated the full sweep of southern life. Here the region's most illustrious families--the Lees, Masons, Carters, Monroes, and Peytons--helped forge southern traditions and attitudes that became characteristic of the entire region while mingling with yeoman farmers of German, Scotch-Irish, and Irish descent, and free black families who lived alongside abolitionist Quakers and thousands of slaves. Stevenson brilliantly recounts their stories as she builds the complex picture of their intertwined lives, revealing how their combined histories guaranteed Loudon's role in important state, regional, and national events and controversies. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, for example, were hidden at a local plantation during the War of 1812. James Monroe wrote his famous "Doctrine" at his Loudon estate. The area also was the birthplace of celebrated fugitive slave Daniel Dangerfield, the home of John Janney, chairman of the Virginia secession convention, a center for Underground Railroad activities, and the location of John Brown's infamous 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry. In exploring the central role of the family, Brenda Stevenson offers a wealth of insight: we look into the lives of upper class women, who bore the oppressive weight of marriage and motherhood as practiced in the South and the equally burdensome roles of their husbands whose honor was tied to their ability to support and lead regardless of their personal preference; the yeoman farm family's struggle for respectability; and the marginal economic existence of free blacks and its undermining influence on their family life. Most important, Stevenson breaks new ground in her depiction of slave family life. Following the lead of historian Herbert Gutman, most scholars have accepted the idea that, like white, slaves embraced the nuclear family, both as a living reality and an ideal. Stevenson destroys this notion, showing that the harsh realities of slavery, even for those who belonged to such attentive masters as George Washington, allowed little possibility of a nuclear family. Far more important were extended kin networks and female headed households. Meticulously researched, insightful, and moving, Life in Black and White offers our most detailed portrait yet of the reality of southern life. It forever changes our understanding of family and race relations during the reign of the peculiar institution in the American South.

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