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Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South



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Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in the Old South, Stephanie Camp examines the everyday containment and movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information, Camp extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition. Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that might otherwise appear to be little more than fits of temper. She brings new depth to our understanding of the lives of enslaved women, whose bodies and homes were inevitably political arenas. Through Camp's insight, truancy becomes an act of pursuing personal privacy. Illegal parties ("frolics") become an expression of bodily freedom. And bondwomen who acquired printed abolitionist materials and posted them on the walls of their slave cabins (even if they could not read them) become the subtle agitators who inspire more overt acts. The culture of opposition created by enslaved women's acts of everyday resistance helped foment and sustain the more visible resistance of men in their individual acts of running away and in the collective action of slave revolts. Ultimately, Camp argues, the Civil War years saw revolutionary change that had been in the making for decades.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1(11)
A Geography of Containment: The Bondage of Space and Time
I Could Not Stay There: Women, Men, and Truancy
The Intoxication of Pleasurable Amusement: Secret Parties and the Politics of the Body
Amalgamation Prints Stuck Up in Her Cabin: Print Culture, the Home, and the Roots of Resistance
To Get Closer to Freedom: Gender, Movement, and Freedom during the Civil War
Postscript 139(4)
Notes 143(32)
Bibliography 175(28)
Index 203

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