Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

Required Reading: Daina Ramey Berry & Leslie M. Harris publish groundbreaking volume on "Sexuality and Slavery"

Wed, November 14, 2018
Required Reading: Daina Ramey Berry & Leslie M. Harris publish groundbreaking volume on
"Sexuality and Slavery" cover detail, University of Georgia Press, 2018

Story by Kazushi Minami Ph.D Candidate, History, UT Austin

Many congratulations to Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. Leslie M. Harris, Professor of History at Northwestern University, on the publication of their new co-edited volume Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas (University of Georgia Press, 2018). This is the first book to appear in the University of Georgia Press’ new series on “Gender and Slavery.”
The edited volume was developed out of the “Sexuality & Slavery: Exposing the History of Enslaved People in the Americas” conference (see the program) at UT Austin in 2011, sponsored by the Institute of Historical Studies, around the institute’s theme on “Power and Place.” Drs. Berry and Harris were IHS Fellows in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, respectively, working on projects titled “The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of Human Property” and “Leaving New Orleans: A Personal Urban History.”
Among the books 10 contributing authors, Dr. Bianca Premo, Professor of History at Florida International University and an IHS Fellow in 2015-2016, wrote a chapter titled, “As If She Were My Own: Love, Mastery and Freedom in the Slave Regime of Colonial Peru,” and Dr. Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harrington Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at UT Austin in 2018-2019, contributed a chapter titled “Rethinking Sexual Violence and the Marketplace of Slavery: White Women, the Slave Market and Enslaved People's Sexualized Bodies in the Nineteenth-Century South.”
Essays in this groundbreaking volume examine the relationships between sexuality and slavery in the United States, the Caribbean, and South America. The mainstream studies of slavery have paid insufficient attention to the significance of sexual practices. Drs. Berry and Harris, however, place sexual intimacy at the center of struggles between slaveholders and slaves. The essays discuss consensual sexual intimacy, its expressions within slave communities, and sexual relationships across the lines of race, status, and power. This volume sheds new light on sexuality as a tool for slaveholders to control, exploit, and repress the enslaved, as well as a medium of slaves to express autonomy, resistance, and defiance.
Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Chair of the History Department and Ellen C. Temple Chair in Women’s History/Mastin Gentry White Professor of Southern History at UT Austin, highly praises Sexuality and Slavery: “Sexual relations—whether consensual or coerced, fleeting or long-term, expressions of personal affection or unbridled power—form a core aspect of the history of enslavement.  The authors of the essays in this groundbreaking volume have managed to dig into archives and illuminate these critical issues with great sensitivity and nuance.  This collection is required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the history gender, sexuality, and slavery.”

For more information about Dr. Berry and her work, visit her website here or follow her on Twitter at @DainaRameyBerry, and read more about Dr. Harris’ work and publications on her faculty home page (she's tweeting @ProfLMH).

In 2019-2020, IHS will host an event celebrating the publication of this work. Check the calendar of events page this summer to learn more.

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