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2919 - Gendered agency of slaves and freedmen with respect to emancipation in two second slavery societies: Cuba and Brazil

My contribution will look comparatively at two second slavery societies (Cuba and Brazil) from the perspective of slaves, patrocinados y freedmen and is based on archival research.

I am interested in the strategies of slaves and ex-slaves to open spaces of autonomy inside the system of mass slavery, to gain their own freedom or free family members, to overcome the slavery system as such and to reach economic and personal autonomy as well as paces of cultural and religious agency and political rights after abolition.

The agency with respect to individual and collective emancipation is marked by gender. Male and female slaves and former slaves have different ideas of freedom and autonomy, they dispose of different possibilities to get emancipation and they follow different strategies to reach their goals. In archives one can find common strategies of (former) slaves or couples or families, but also conflicts. A man may confirm his freedom and status as citizen by adoption the role of a patriarchal head of a family who rules his wife and children, but a woman may reject to give up her economic independency acquired through activities in the market economy and try to govern her household alone.

The results of my microhistorical research are integrated in a wider perspective of comparison between both slavery and post-slavery societies looking also at external factors which influence the agency of slaves and freedmen, such as economic (boom or decay of sugar or coffee production), social (immigration of labourers of other ethnic oirgin) and political developments (e.g. the Cuban fights for Independence which offered male slaves the possibility to gain freedom as soldiers, level of state repression).

Palabras claves: agency, slavery, emancipation, gender, autonomy

Autores: Schmieder, Ulrike (Universidad de Hannover, Germany / Deutschland)

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