In Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635-1848, Bernard Moitt argues that gender had a profound effect on the slave plantation system in the French Antilles. He details and analyzes 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.
As males outnumbered females for most of the slavery period and monopolized virtually all of the specialized tasks, the disregard for gender in task allocation meant that females did proportionately more hard labor than did males. In addition to hard work in the fields, women were engaged in gender-specific labor and performed a host of other tasks.
Women resisted slavery in the same ways that men did, as well as in ways that gender and allocation of tasks made possible. 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.
About the Author:
Bernard Moitt is an assistant professor in the History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Previously, he taught at the University of Toronto and at Utica College of Syracuse University. Educated in Antigua (where he was born) and in Canada and the United States, he has published numerous articles and book chapters on aspects of francophone African and Caribbean history, with particular emphasis on gender and slavery.