Becoming a Free Woman in Brazilian Society on the Eve of Abolition: Biographies of Domestic Workers and Wet Nurses

Friday, January 3, 2014: 8:30 AM
Maryland Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado, University of São Paulo
This paper intents to address a number of important issues that marked the final decade of slavery in Brazil’s southeast, focusing specifically on the ways women achieved freedom and experienced it in the context of change from a slavocratic society to one controlled by sanitation policies. The questions to be addressed here include the problem of women’s social identities in slavery and in freedom, the spatial mobility of slave women during this period, the introduction of sanitation policies in the control of domestic workers (especially wet nurses), and the emergence of racialized medical discourse focused on the control of women coming out of slavery. In order to achieve this goal the paper will discuss biographies of women in the process of becoming free, especially domestic workers and wet nurses.
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