Cover for GASPAR: Beyond Bondage: Free Women of Color in the Americas. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Beyond Bondage

Free Women of Color in the Americas

Black women who were not slaves during the era of slavery

David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine's Beyond Bondage outlines the restricted spheres within which free women of color, by virtue of gender and racial restrictions, were forced to carve out their existences. Although their freedom, represented by the acquisition of property, respectability, and opportunity, always remained precarious, the collection supports the surprising conclusion that women of color often sought and obtained these advantages more successfully than their male counterparts.


"This volume is a must read for students of comparative New World slave systems. Although the primary focus of each essay is the quality of life experienced by women of color in a particular locale, each contributes to a broad picure of the interconnected web of racial identities, class systems, and sexual exploitation that characterized slave societies."--Journal of American History

"This book lays a solid foundation for future studies of free black women in the Americas. One of its greatest strengths is its comparative framework, which allows the reader to analytically compare and contrast the different regions of the Americas. Another strength is the wide variety of sources and methodological approaches used by contributors, which results in a richly textured analysis in every essay. . . . Future research will undoubtedly confirm the major finding of this book: that the social position of free women of color--subordinate yet with access to resources and influence--is crucial for understanding not only women's lives in the Americas but also slavery, race relations, urban work, and spiritual life."--American Historical Review

"Many of the essays here are extremely rich, both in their focus on individual lives and in their presentation of important quantitative data which helps us to understand the processes by which people of colour built and sustained gendered communities."--Journal of Peasant Studies

"A pacemaking, trendsetting collection of essays on free women of color that brings to the forefront the varying roles and generally marginalized status of persons who played an important role in the slave societies of the Americas."--Edward Cox, professor of history, Rice University


David Barry Gaspar, professor of history at Duke University, is the author of Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua and other books. Darlene Clark Hine, Board of Trustees Professor of African American Studies and History, Northwestern University, is the author of several books, including Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950. Together they have edited More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas (Blacks in the Diaspora).

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