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In 1781 Lima, a mulato libre named Pedro Nolasco Boller filed a civil suit on behalf of his enslaved daughter María Hipólita Lozano. In their statements, both father and daughter described Lozano’s life in the Salvatierra home as exceedingly brutal. She was exposed to regular physical and sexual abuse at the hands of both husband and wife, and it was this accretion of assaults that forced her to run away. When that attempt at freedom was foiled, Lozano moved quickly to find other ways out: with the help of her extended network (which included her parents, her husband, as well as her godfather) she secured a new owner, who seemed to offer at least a modicum of refuge and a safer place to have her child; and she later turned to the courts to facilitate this transition when Fernando José Salvatierra tried to stymie it. In analyzing this case, my chapter highlights how, even when juridical freedom lay out of their reach, enslaved women nonetheless deployed myriad and evolving strategies to remake their lives.
In Exquisite Slaves, Tamara J. Walker examines how slaves used elegant clothing as a language for expressing attitudes about gender and status in the wealthy urban center of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Lima, Peru. Drawing on traditional historical research methods, visual studies, feminist theory, and material culture scholarship, Walker argues that clothing was an emblem of not only the reach but also the limits of slaveholders' power and racial domination. Even as it acknowledges the significant limits imposed on slaves' access to elegant clothing, Exquisite Slaves also showcases the insistence and ingenuity with which slaves dressed to convey their own sense of humanity and dignity. Building on other scholars' work on slaves' agency and subjectivity in examining how they made use of myriad legal discourses and forums, Exquisite Slaves argues for the importance of understanding the body itself as a site of claims-making.