Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Five - “A Concubine is Still a Slave”

from Section I - Pleasures and Prohibitions

Summary

Introduction

Concubinage, in which women were enslaved for the purpose of sexual relations with their male owners outside the institution of marriage, was an integral part of nineteenth-century Islamic colonial Zanzibari society. Initially, I aimed to identify concubinage within the archaeology of a nineteenth-century Zanzibari clove plantation, but archaeological materials did not simply proclaim their connections to sexuality. It is no easy task for an archaeologist to identify material traces of the many women who were enslaved to be forced into sexual relations and/or for reproduction. The interpretations presented here thus draw both on archaeological evidence and on my conversations about former plantation residents with contemporary Zanzibaris, in the process of which I was confronted with the historical reality of concubinage. I have also had to grapple with the politics and ethics of writing a scholarly paper that examines the subjectivities of enslaved women who were forced into sexual relations with their owners, an oppressive relationship that paradoxically may have offered a route to their greatest potential material well-being and eventual freedom.

Both of these topics have yet to be discussed by archaeologists working along the East African “Swahili” coast, where historical and archaeological analyses of houses are generally interpreted as structured by Islamic gender dichotomies (Donley-Reid 1990; Fleisher and LaViolette 2007; Horton and Middleton 2000; Sheriff 1995a, 1995b). The most recent scholarship, focused on urban Zanzibar, has blurred such strict dichotomies by examining the intersections of class and gender within East African house space (Myers 1997). Separate from these materially focused studies, historians of gender on the East African coast have shown that sexual relations between husbands and wives and masters and concubines were an important aspect through which women mediated ethnic and class relations (Fair 1996; McCurdy 2006). This chapter draws together these two strands of scholarship. Focusing on the material remains of nineteenth-century rural clove plantations on Zanzibar, I explore the way in which sexual relations were embedded in spatial practices of households.

References
Aldrick, J. 1990 The Nineteenth-Century Carved Wooden Doors of the East African CoastAzania 25 1
Arondekar, Anjali. 2005 Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial ArchiveJournal of the History of Sexuality 14 10
Askew, Kelly M. 1999 Female Circles and Male Lines: Gender Dynamics along the Swahili CoastAfrica Today 46 67
Benson, KoniChadya, Joyce M 2005 : Gender and Sexual Violence in Bulawayo, Colonial Zimbabwe, 1946–1956Journal of Southern African Studies 31 587
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977 Outline of a Theory of PracticeCambridgeCambridge University Press
Bourdieu, Pierre. 2000 The Berber House or the World RevistedThomas, J.Interpretive Archaeology: A ReaderLondon and New YorkLeicester University Press150
Brode, Heinrich. 2000 Tippu Tip: The Story of His Career in Zanzibar and Central Africa, Narrated from His Own AccountsZanzibarThe Gallery Publications
Butler, Judith. 1993 Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “SexNew YorkRoutledge
Caplan, Pat. 1976 Boys’ Circumcision and Girls’ Puberty Rites among the Swahili of Mafia Island, TanzaniaAfrica: Journal of the International African Institute 46 21
Casella, Eleanor ConlinFowler, Chris 2005 Beyond Identification: An IntroductionCasella, E. C.Fowler, CThe Archaeology of Plural and Changing IdentitiesNew YorkSpringer
Chami, Felix. 1998 A Review of Swahili ArchaeologyAfrican Archaeological Review 15 199
Comaroff, JeanComaroff, John L 1992 Home-Made Hegemony: Modernity, Domesticity, and Colonialism in South AfricaHansen, K. T.African Encounters with DomesticityNew Brunswick, New JerseyRutgers University Press
Cooper, Frederick. 1977 Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of AfricaNew HavenYale University Press
Cooper, Frederick. 1979 The Problem of Slavery in African StudiesThe Journal of African History 20 103
Cooper, Frederick 1981 Islam and Cultural Hegemony: The Ideology of Slaveowners on the East African CoastLovejoy, P. E.The Ideology of Slavery in AfricaLondonSage
Craster, John Evelyn Edmund. 1913 Pemba, the Spice Island of ZanzibarLondonT. Fisher Unwin
Croucher, Sarah K. 2007 Clove Plantations on Nineteenth-Century Zanzibar: Possibilities for Gender Archaeology in AfricaJournal of Social Archaeology 7 302
Croucher, Sarah K. 2007 Facing Many Ways: Approaches to the Archaeological Landscapes of the East African CoastHicks, DMcAtackney, LFairclough, GEnvisioning Landscape: Situations and Standpoints in Archaeology and HeritageWalnut Creek, CALeft Coast Press55
Croucher, Sarah K.preparationCapitalism and Cloves: A Critique of Historical ArchaeologyNew YorkSpringer
Croucher, Sarah KWynne-Jones, Stephanie 2006 People, Not Pots: Locally Produced Ceramics and Identity on the 19th Century East African CoastInternational Journal of African Historical Studies 39 107
Donley-Reid, Linda. 1990 A Structuring Structure: The Swahili HouseKent, S.Domestic Architecture and the Use of SpaceCambridge, UKCambridge University Press63
Fair, Laura. 1996 Identity, Difference, and Dance: Female Initiation in Zanzibar, 1890 to 1930Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 17 146
Fair, Laura. 2001 Pastimes and Politics: Culture, Community, and Identity in Post-Abolition Urban Zanzibar, 1890–1945, Eastern African StudiesAthensOhio University Press
Fair, Laura. 2004 Remaking Fashion in the Paris of the Indian Ocean: Dress, Performance, and the Cultural Construction of a Cosmopolitan Zanzibari IdentityAllman, J.Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress, African Expressive CulturesBloomington and IndianapolisIndiana University Press13
Fewster, Kathryn J. 2006 The Potential of Analogy in Post-Processual Archaeologies: A Case Study from Basimane Ward, Serowe, BotswanaJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (New Series) 12 61
Fleisher, Jeffrey B.LaViolette, Adria 2007 The Changing Power of Swahili Houses, Fourteenth to Nineteenth Centuries Beck, R. A. JThe Durable House: House Society Models in ArchaeologyCarbondaleCenter for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Glassman, Jonathon. 1991 The Bonsman's New Clothes: The Contradictory Consciousness of Slave Resistance on the Swahili CoastJournal of African History 32 277
Glassman, Jonathon. 1995 Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion and Popular Consciousness on The Swahili Coast, 1856–1888Portsmouth, NH, and LondonHeinemann/James Currey
Hansen, Karen Tranberg 1992 Introduction: Domesticity in AfricaHansen, K. T.African Encounters with DomesticityNew Brunswick, NJRutgers University Press1
Hendon, Julia A. 2004 Living and Working at Home: The Social Archaeology of Household Production and Social RelationsMeskell, L.Preucel, RA Companion to Social ArchaeologyMalden, MABlackwell272
Horton, Mark. 1996 Shanga: The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East AfricaLondonBritish Institute in Eastern Africa
Horton, MarkMiddleton, John 2000 The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile SocietyMalden, MABlackwell
Huffman, Thomas N. 1984 Expressive Space in the Zimbabwe CultureMan (New Series) 19 593
King, Julia A. 2006 Household Archaeology, Identities and BiographiesHicks, D.Beaudry, M. CThe Cambridge Companion to Historical ArchaeologyNew YorkCambridge University Press293
LaViolette, Adrian. 2008 Swahili cosmopolitanism in Africa and the Indian Ocean World, 600–1500Archaeologies 4 24
Lyne, Robert Nunez. 2001 Zanzibar in Contemporary Times: A Short History of the Southern East Africa in the Nineteenth CenturyZanzibarGallery Publications
Lyons, Diane. 1998 Witchcraft, Gender, Power and Intimate Relations in Mura Compounds in Déla, Northern CameroonWorld Archaeology 29 344
Mack, Berverly B. 1992 Harem Domesticity in Kano, NigeriaHansen, K. T.African Encounters with DomesticityNew Brunswick, New JerseyRutgers University Press75
Mahmood, Saba. 2005 Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist SubjectPrinceton, NJPrinceton University Press
McClintock, Anne. 1995 Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Colonial ContestNew YorkRoutledge
McCurdy, Sheryl. 2006 Fashioning Sexuality: Desire, Manyema Ethnicity, and the Creation of the , ca. 1880–1900International Journal of African Historical Studies 39 441
Meskell, LynnJoyce, Rosemary A 2003 Embodied Lives: Figuring Ancient Maya and Egyptian ExperienceLondonRoutledge
Middleton, John. 1992 The World of the SwahiliNew Haven, CTYale University Press
Moore, Henrietta L. 1986 Space, Text and Gender: An Anthropological Study of the Marakwet of KenyaCambridgeCambridge University Press
Myers, Garth Andrew. 1997 Sticks and Stones: Colonialism and Zanzibari HousingAfrica 67 252
Myers, Garth Andrew. 2003 Verandahs of Power: Colonialism and Space in Urban AfricaShort, J. RSyracuse, NYSyracuse University Press
Reid, AndrewLane, Paul J 2004 African Historical Archaeologies: An Introductory Consideration of Scope and PotentialReid, A. M.Lane, P. JAfrican Historical ArchaeologiesNew YorkKluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers1
Reute, Emily 1998 Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from ZanzibarZanzibarGallery Publications
Robson, Elsbeth. 2006 The ‘Kitchen’ as Women's Space in Rural Hausaland, Northern NigeriaGender, Place and Culture 13 669
Romero Curtin, Patricia. 1983 Laboratory for the Oral History of Slavery: The Island of Lamu on the Kenya CoastThe American Historical Review 88 858
Romero, Patricia W. 1986 ‘Where have all the slaves gone?’ Emancipation and Post-Emancipation in Lamu, KenyaJournal of African History 27 497
Schmidt, Robert A.Voss, Barbara L 2000 Archaeologies of SexualityNew YorkRoutledge
Sheriff, Abdul. 1987 Slaves, Spices and Ivory in ZanzibarAthensOhio University Press
Sheriff, Abdul. 1995 IntroductionSheriff, AbdulThe History and Conservation of Zanzibar Stone TownAthensOhio University Press
Sheriff, Abdul 1995 An Outline History of Zanzibar Stone TownSheriff, AbdulThe History and Conservation of Zanzibar Stone TownAthensOhio University Press
Stoler, Ann L. 1989 Making Empire Respectable: The Politics of Race and Sexual Morality in 20th Century Colonial CulturesAmerican Ethnologist 16 643
Tringham, Ruth. 1992 Engendered Places in PrehistoryGender, Place and Culture 1 169