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  • Cited by 4
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
September 2020
Print publication year:
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Book description

As If She Were Free brings together the biographies of twenty-four women of African descent to reveal how enslaved and recently freed women sought, imagined, and found freedom from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries in the Americas. Our biographical approach allows readers to view large social processes – migration, trade, enslavement, emancipation – through the perspective of individual women moving across the boundaries of slavery and freedom. For some women, freedom meant liberation and legal protection from slavery, while others focused on gaining economic, personal, political, and social rights. Rather than simply defining emancipation as a legal status that was conferred by those in authority and framing women as passive recipients of freedom, these life stories demonstrate that women were agents of emancipation, claiming free status in the courts, fighting for liberty, and defining and experiencing freedom in a surprising and inspiring range of ways.


One of the Best Black-History Books of 2020, Black Perspectives


‘This collection is a long-awaited addition to the scholarship on women of African descent in the Americas. Gathering the finest women historians working on the history of slavery and emancipation in several countries of the Americas, this volume brings to light the groundbreaking trajectories of black women in regions as diverse as Colombia, Brazil, Ohio, and Virginia. Very often forgotten in the historiography, these women were pioneers in fighting for their rights since the era of Atlantic slavery. This book will be a mandatory reading in any undergraduate or graduate course on women, slavery, and emancipation in the Americas.’

Ana Lucia Araujo - Howard University, Washington, DC

'… the most pleasant and notable merit of the work is the plurality of stories reconstructed in very different American geographies, as well as from historical sources that are also diverse.'

Estela Roselló Soberón Source: Hispanic American Historical Review (translated from Spanish)

‘… an exciting and provocative anthology of twenty-four essays that explore both the meaning of freedom and the strategies to obtain it for individual women, mostly of African descent, within slave societies in the Americas or in the immediate post-abolition context.’

Karen Y. Morrison Source: Journal of African American History

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Page 1 of 2

  • 1 - Margarita de Sossa, Sixteenth-Century Puebla de los Ángeles, New Spain (Mexico)
    pp 27-42

Page 1 of 2


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