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The Politics of Slavery$
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Laura Brace

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401142

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401142.001.0001

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The Subjection of Women: Loopholes of Retreat?

The Subjection of Women: Loopholes of Retreat?

Chapter:
(p.142) Chapter 7 The Subjection of Women: Loopholes of Retreat?
Source:
The Politics of Slavery
Author(s):

Laura Brace

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401142.003.0007

This chapter focuses on gender and slavery, and in particular on the rhetoric of thinking about wives as slaves in both the pre and post abolition contexts, and in the different and parallel conversations about empire that went on through the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the process of transforming humanity into moral beings, gender as a register of difference played out in complex ways that troubled the concept of personhood as a status and redrew some of the boundaries of enslavability. The complications of home, the ‘collapsed geography’ of the plantation household and the contested meanings of the private /public divide require us to think about the power relations within the household, between women and men, but also between women and women living in constant contact with one another. Through a critical analysis of Wollstonecraft, Thompson and Mill and the analogy of marriage and slavery, and of the characterisation of white women as the survivors of slavery, this chapter argues for the importance of looking at the disavowals and occlusions of those narratives, and thinking instead about the indebtedness of freedom to notions of property, possession and exchange that are predicated on race as well as gender.

Keywords:   Wollstonecraft, Thompson, Mill, Mary Prince, marriage as slavery, sexual subjection, plantation household

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