Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World

TitleWicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJohnson, Jessica Marie
Number of Pages360
PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Wicked Flesh explores "practices of freedom" by African women and women of African descent within geographies riven by slavery. New Orleans lies at the heart of a project whose Atlantic embrace includes Senegambia, Louisiana, Spanish Cuba, and revolutionary Saint-Domingue. The book opens with chapters on the African port towns of Saint Louis and Gorée where cross-cultural relationships of patronage, kinship, and servitude knit women of varied status within networks of exchange increasingly dominated by the slave trade. Expertly weaving a social tapestry from archival fragments, Johnson follows Black women across the Middle Passage into diaspora as they struggled to survive, rose in revolt, baptized children, practiced their faith, and lived their pleasures. In an insurgent reading of colonial archives, Johnson paints the violent intimacies--"corporeal, carnal, quotidian" --that linked women with slaveowners, traders, and imperial authorities, while emphasizing the forms of intimacy and kinship built among people of African descent.

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