Women in Bondage: Local and Transnational Histories, Part 4: Pathways of Enslaved Women in Africa during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

AHA Session 154
Saturday, January 4, 2014: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Maryland Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Anthony A. Lee, West Los Angeles College
Mariana P. Candido, University of Kansas

Session Abstract

This panel explores the multiple dimensions of women enslavement and their daily lives in West and West Central Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The papers discuss the complex context that led women to be enslaved after the end of the Atlantic slave trade and the first decades of colonial rule. Vanessa Oliveira's paper examines the activities of enslaved women in the middle of the nineteenth century in Luanda (Angola). By looking at published primary sources, the paper scrutinizes the different kinds of activities performed by enslaved women in order to build a portrait of their living and working conditions. Oliveira shows how enslaved men and women competed for similar kinds of jobs in Luanda, even though women were more exposed to violence. Moving to West Africa, Marie Rodet explores the context of women enslavement in the region of Kayes, Western Sudan (present-day Mali) by the end of the nineteenth century. Exploring oral accounts, Rodet sheds light on the personal experience of these enslaved women, dimension that up to now has been neglected by historians of colonial West Africa. The third paper by Robin Chapdelaine examines women and children trafficking in Southeastern Nigeria during the 1920s and 1930s. Chapdelaine explains how British colonizers responded to local practices of pawning and marriage that led to the enslavement of women and children. The three papers show that, although illegal, numerous practices of enslavement and slavery persisted in West and West Central Africa areas colonized by the Portuguese, French, and the British until the 1930s.