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date: 16 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on various and comparative experiences of different populations of women in unfree labor systems in the early modern Atlantic world, beginning with indigenous women in the Americas who suffered the violent consequences of Spanish conquest. It discusses gendered contexts shaping slavery in West Africa, the Caribbean, and South America; the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade; and the consequences for unfree and free women in different communities of North America during the period of international trade in human beings. It centers the experience of sexual exploitation inherent in labor systems in which women brokered no power over their bodies and reproductive lives, elucidating the limitations of archives in which women’s perspectives are largely silenced. Efforts at evacuating the lives of marginalized women from the silences in the archives have offered new insights into women’s lives and changed understandings about everyday experience in the early modern Atlantic world.

Keywords: female labor, unfree, enslaved, sexual exploitation, indentured, indigenous women, African women, European women, slavery, slave trade

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