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The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

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Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Bla Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora. Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities. Published in cooperation with the Library Company of Philadelphia’s Program in African American History


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Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Bla Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora. Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities. Published in cooperation with the Library Company of Philadelphia’s Program in African American History

37 review for The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kidada

    Winters's excellent book is a critical text for helping scholars of the African diaspora rethink their assumptions about the infamous free(d) mixed-race concubines. Pushing against the popular view that these women always enjoyed more agency than their enslaved counterparts, Winters uses a variety of sources (letters, travel narratives, etc.) to peel back the layers, revealing the precarious nature of their lives. Winters's excellent book is a critical text for helping scholars of the African diaspora rethink their assumptions about the infamous free(d) mixed-race concubines. Pushing against the popular view that these women always enjoyed more agency than their enslaved counterparts, Winters uses a variety of sources (letters, travel narratives, etc.) to peel back the layers, revealing the precarious nature of their lives.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This book can be dense at times for someone with no knowledge of some of the topics, but it is very valuable in its deconstruction of the monolithic depiction of the archetype of the "mulatta", however one names the very real but deeply hidden and implied image of the hyper/highly sexual/ized woman of mixed black and white decent (and the just as hidden-but-implied image of her non-existent brother) in our western cultural landscape. This book can be dense at times for someone with no knowledge of some of the topics, but it is very valuable in its deconstruction of the monolithic depiction of the archetype of the "mulatta", however one names the very real but deeply hidden and implied image of the hyper/highly sexual/ized woman of mixed black and white decent (and the just as hidden-but-implied image of her non-existent brother) in our western cultural landscape.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    Yet another book that changed my view of the historical record! I loved it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Semilore Sobande

    I’m not done but she really ate y’all girls up my god. Come on, DIASPORA!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Rindfleisch

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie Martelle

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allegra Itsoga

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dutchermann

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Wegmann

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan

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    Cy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carla

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    Maiamali

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara Weather

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    Tasha Nins

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    Kim

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yvett

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cactus

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

  24. 4 out of 5

    April Swartz-larson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gopa Thampi

  26. 4 out of 5

    aconcisehistory

  27. 5 out of 5

    Halee

  28. 4 out of 5

    S

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brittnee

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ayla

  31. 4 out of 5

    Maria Hunter

  32. 4 out of 5

    Alina Scott

  33. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  34. 4 out of 5

    Nikkeshia

  35. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  36. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  37. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite Barrett

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