Gender had a profound effect on the slave plantation system in the French Antilles. In "Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635-1848", Bernard Moitt advances this argument by detailing and analysing the social condition of enslaved black women in the plantation societies of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), and French Guiana from 1635 to the abolition of slavery in the French colonial empire in 1848. Moitt examines the lives of black women in bondage, evaluates the impact that the slave experience had on them, and assesses the ways in which women reacted to and coped with slavery in the French Caribbean for over two centuries.In probing the lives of slave women, the book focuses mainly on how they laboured valiantly in multiple dimensions, and how they resisted slavery individually and collectively. Thus the relationship between the allocation of tasks and women's resistance to slavery is emphasised. However, the book also deals with gender relations and their interplay with race.
Moitt shows that gender was obliterated under slavery where sexual differentiation gave way to the need for hard, intensive labour, Women were given just as heavy tasks as men, especially in the fields.As males outnumbered females for most of the slavery period and monopolised virtually all of the specialised tasks, the disregard for gender in task allocation means that females did proportionately more hard labour than males. Aside from hard labour in the fields, however, women also engaged in gender-specific labour and performed a host of other labour tasks. How gender made slavery different for women than for men constitutes an important aspect of the book. Slave women resisted slavery in the same ways that men did, as well as in ways that gender and allocation of tasks made possible.Indeed, women were simultaneously involved in multiple strategies aimed at asserting their individuality and ultimately subverting the slave system. Moitt casts slave women in dynamic roles previously ignored by historians, thus bringing them out of the shadows of the plantation world into full view where they belong.
His analysis leads him to conclude that in spite of the insurmountable odds that slave women faced, they demonstrated courage, stamina, strength of character, resilience and the will to survive; and that future generations can benefit from this extraordinary legacy.
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 24 mm