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Reflections on the 'History and Historians' of the black woman's role in the community of slaves: enslaved women and intimate partner sexual violence

West, E. (2018) Reflections on the 'History and Historians' of the black woman's role in the community of slaves: enslaved women and intimate partner sexual violence. American Nineteenth Century History, 19 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1466-4658

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14664658.2018.1429333

Abstract/Summary

Taking as points of inspiration Peter Parish’s 1989 book, Slavery: History and Historians, and Angela Davis’s seminal 1971 article, “Reflections on the black woman’s role in the community of slaves,” this probes both historiographically and methodologically some of the challenges faced by historians writing about the lives of enslaved women through a case study of intimate partner violence among enslaved people in the antebellum South. Because rape and sexual assault have been defined in the past as non-consensual sexual acts supported by surviving legal evidence (generally testimony from court trials), it is hard for historians to research rape and sexual violence under slavery (especially marital rape) as there was no legal standing for the rape of enslaved women or the rape of any woman within marriage. This article suggests enslaved women recognized that black men could both be perpetrators of sexual violence and simultaneously be victims of the system of slavery. It also argues women stoically tolerated being forced into intimate relationships, sometimes even staying with “husbands” imposed upon them after emancipation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:66789
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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