Sexual relationships and working lives of free Afro-Caribbean women

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    Abstract

    The article explores how the sexual relationships and working lives of free Afro-Caribbean women in the town of Christiansted, St. Croix, the Danish-Norwegian West Indies, were affected by discourses of race and gender during the period c. 1780–1820. To further the understanding of the conditions of the free Afro-Caribbean women in Christiansted, the article relates to the situation in other Caribbean colonies, especially the British West Indies, based on the assumption that it was the same discourses of race and gender that swept through all the Caribbean slave societies. In its approach, the article is inspired by concepts of race and gender in postcolonial studies.

    The investigation shows the prevalence in the Danish-Norwegian West Indies of discourses of Afro-Caribbean women as, on the one hand, unwomanly and physically strong and, on the other hand, promiscuous and of easy virtue. On this basis, the article argues that the interplay between these gendered racial discourses and the social practices of the free Afro-Caribbean women were in fact far more complex than previous international research has suggested. In the sexual and work relations of daily life, discourses were interpreted more fluently, and a number of competing conditions and ideas challenged or worked against the idea of Afro-Caribbean racial inferiority. Among these were, for instance, the women’s social position and European ideas of work appropriate for women.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScandinavian Journal of History
    Volume41
    Issue number4-5
    Pages (from-to)565-585
    Number of pages21
    ISSN0346-8755
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2016

    Keywords

    • social work and social conditions
    • kvinder
    • køn
    • race
    • slaver

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