Rites and Rights of Passage: Enslaved Girls and Women in the United States South and Barbados

AHA Session 117
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Room 204 (Hynes Convention Center)
Daina R. Berry, University of Texas at Austin
Jennifer L. Morgan, New York University

Session Abstract

The peculiar institution delineated crucial experiences of enslaved girls and women. Throughout their lives, enslaved girls and women understood that their "place" and "space" in a slaveocracy meant the curtailment of everyday activities and involved various modes of dehumanization. In this session, utilizing a range of archival sources, panelists explore how specific rites and rights of passage for enslaved girls and women defined key dimensions of their lived experiences--from articles of clothing that served as markers of their passage from girlhood to womanhood to avenues of punishment and torture that oftentimes brutally ended their struggle for freedom. Even in death, whether by the noose in Barbados or massacred in southern contraband camps and plantations during the Civil War, enslaved girls and women resisted the forces of bondage that attempted to deny their very humanity and personhood.

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