Daina Ramey Berry and Nakia D. Parker
This chapter analyzes the lives of enslaved women in the nineteenth-century United States and the Caribbean, an era characterized by the massive expansion of the institution of chattel slavery. Framing the discussion through the themes of labor, commodification, sexuality, and resistance, this chapter highlights the wide range of lived experiences of enslaved women in the Atlantic World. Enslaved women’s productive and reproductive labor fueled the global machinery of capitalism and the market economy. Although enslaved women endured the constant exploitation and commodification of their bodies, many actively resisted their enslavement and carved out supportive and sustaining familial, marital, and kinship bonds. In addition, this essay explains how white, native, and black women could be complicit in the perpetuation of chattel slavery as enslavers and slave traders. Considering women in their roles as the oppressed and the oppressors contributes and expands historical understandings of gender and sexuality in relation to slavery.