Slave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribbean

TitleSlave Women in the New World: Gender Stratification in the Caribbean
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1989
AuthorsMorrissey, Marietta
Number of Pages250
PublisherUniversity Press of Kansas
CityLawrence, KS

In this book, Morrissey examines a wide spectrum of experience among Caribbean slave women, including their work at home, in the fields, and as domestics; their roles as wives and mothers; their health, sexuality, and fertility; and their decline in status with the advent of industrialization and the abolition of slavery. Life for these women, Morrissey shows, was much more hazardous, brutal, and fragmented than it was for their counterparts in the American South. These women were in a constant, dynamic struggle with men—both masters and fellow slaves—over the foundations of their social experience. On the one hand, their slave status gradually robbed them of their domain—the household economy—and created a kind of perverse equality in which slave women—like slave men—became “units of agricultural labor.” One the other hand, slave women were denied the access that slave men eventually gained to skilled agricultural work. The result of this gender inequality was a further erosion of the status and authority of slave women within their own culture.

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