Between motherhood and sexual politics: the relationships between white mistresses and enslaved women in the Antebellum South 1820-1860

Forrester, Amrit (2015) Between motherhood and sexual politics: the relationships between white mistresses and enslaved women in the Antebellum South 1820-1860. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    White mistresses and enslaved women in the Antebellum South during 1820-1860 faced implications of patriarchal authority. Some historians have asserted that this was a reason for white mistresses and enslaved women to form female solidarities. During shared gendered experiences such as motherhood women were thought to have formed strong unifications which crossed racial boundaries. Other historians have strongly refuted the idea of a sisterhood and have claimed that violence, sexual exploitation, race and class were reasons for division between enslaved women and white mistresses. Alongside these debates, some historians have also taken more of a middle ground by stating that as much as women did share some similarities, in most cases this did not allow them a full recognition of a sisterhood. Through the lens of motherhood it will be shown how women were able to form relationships which were at times affectionate. Through the theme of sexual politics it will be made evident that miscegenation caused jealousy, violence and competitiveness which fractured the relationships between the two sets of women. This investigation has drawn insightful findings from personal testimonies such as slave narratives, white women’s diaries and traveller accounts. Ultimately, this dissertation will use the themes of motherhood and sexual politics to demonstrate that relationships between white mistresses and enslaved women were nuanced, complex and at times contradictory.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2015 08:43
    Last Modified: 08 Jun 2015 08:43
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/17312

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