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Women and Thier Forgotten Role in Slavery

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Submitted By divacious
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Women and their forgotten role in Slavery
Nigel Sadler
Sands of Time Consultancy

Often when the history of slavery is studied the argument is over whose history is being told. This debate rarely goes beyond whether it is the history as written by or about the white or black involvement. There is often an assumed male history.

History books mainly reflect the involvement of men. The abolitionists (Clarkson and Wilberforce), the Slave traders (Canot) and the enslaved (Equaino). In portrayal of enslaved people, men appear more frequently. In the movie Amistad it is told from the point of view of Cinque; in the TV series Roots it follows Kunta Kinte. This male dominated history fails to acknowledge, belittles and devalues the role of women at all levels of slavery. What about the female slave traders, slave owners, enslaved females, female rebels and abolitionists? Are they really invisible?

Verene Shepherd, in Women in Caribbean History states that up until the 1970s Caribbean books neglected women because early historians looked at colonisation, government, religion, trade and war fare, activities men were more involved in. Also some historians felt that women’s issues did not merit inclusion and where women could have been included, such as slave uprisings, their contributions were ignored.

Shepherd believes changes occurred with the influence of women’s groups who tried to correct the gender neutral or male biased history. There was also a shift into social history, looking at the non elite and into topics such as family life. Books started to look at women’s social and political activities. Unfortunately there was a lack of first hand accounts from the period of the transatlantic slave trade – accounts written by men at the time either ignored women or perpetuated the myth of female inferiority and stereotyping. Gender sensitivity history was one…...

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