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6 - Juana de Godinez, Seventeenth-Century Lima (Peru)

from Part I - Claiming Emancipation during the Rise of New World Slavery

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Erica L. Ball
Affiliation:
Occidental College, Los Angeles
Tatiana Seijas
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
Terri L. Snyder
Affiliation:
California State University, Fullerton
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Summary

This contribution assesses the legal struggle of Juana Godínez to enforce the last will and testament of her owner that she remain within the cloisters of La Encarnación (a cloister for wealthy Limeña doncellas in the seventeenth century) as a free person. Juana had to fight to remain within La Encarnación as free. According to the terms of the will, if she were to leave the convent, she would have to pay 400 pesos for her freedom. Did her owner’s testament in fact grant Juana autonomy to choose how she would live her life after her death, or did the testament give her an option to remain within the cloister (the only home she had ever known) as a freedwoman? The fact that Juana “chose” to remain within the cloister while litigating her case, and that she refused the option of self- purchase prompts us to think of what freedom meant to enslaved women who belonged to religious communities. Juana’s case—and her alleged choices afford us an opportunity to think through freedom in the early modern slaveholding world.

Type
Chapter
Information
As If She Were Free
A Collective Biography of Women and Emancipation in the Americas
, pp. 110 - 128
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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