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No More, No More: Slavery and Cultural Resistance in Havana and New Orleans

Daniel E. Walker
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    No More, No More
    Book Description:

    This ambitious book looks at how people of African descent in two societies—Havana and New Orleans in the nineteenth century—created their own forms of cultural resistance to the slave regime’s assault. No More, No More elucidates the economic, social, cultural, and demographic operations at work in two cities and the efforts at cultural resistance embodied in public performances.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9582-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xiv)

    Targeting slave society in nineteenth-century Havana, Cuba, and New Orleans, Louisiana, this study examines mechanisms of social control directed at people of African descent and cultural resistance efforts embodied in public performances. Focusing on these slave societies’ diverse efforts to control their African-descended populace’s definitions of space, family, social image, and community, it seeks to analyze representations found in the annual Día de Reyes (Day of the Kings) festival in Havana and the weekly activities that took place on Sundays at Congo Square in New Orleans as challenges to the dehumanizing dictates suggested by those in power. In terms of...

  4. 1 El Día de Reyes and Congo Square: Links to Africa and the Americas
    (pp. 1-18)

    For more than two centuries, scholars and contemporary observers have been intrigued by the elaborate processions that took place during Havana’s annual Día de Reyes festival and the weekly performances staged at New Orleans’s Congo Square. As much a part of these cities’ nineteenth-century characterizations as any landmark or political event, these gatherings of African-descended peoples have perplexed as well as fascinated. Objects of envy and, more often, ridicule, El Día de Reyes and Congo Square were eclectic events that brought together a diversity of elements from the cities’ enslaved and free black communities. Containing both the sacred and the...

  5. 2 Defining Space: Social Control and Public Space
    (pp. 19-58)

    One thesis of this chapter is that the slave societies of nineteenth-century Havana and New Orleans sought to control their African-descended populations by restricting their movement and by defining space in a way that would cause people of color to associate specific sites with particularly violent or oppressive experiences. The other is that through the actions carried out in Congo Square and El Día de Reyes these cities’ African-descended populations redefined spaces in a manner that countered the debilitating effects of the slave regime’s space-centered social-control initiatives. Central to this argument is the fact that places have psychosocial as well...

  6. 3 Regulating Domesticity: The Fight for the Family
    (pp. 59-104)

    In both Havana and New Orleans, the African-descended community was faced with a multifaceted assault on the family. The slave regimes constructed monumental hurdles to the development and maintenance of households made up of black and mulatto men, women, and children. These obstacles limited the ability of the African-descended population to fulfill the roles of wife and mother, husband and father, and also greatly limited the possibility that black and mulatto children would grow up in households composed of blood-linked parents. Although this attack undermined many of the traditional institutions that buttressed the family in Africa, it did not eradicate...

  7. 4 Imagining the African/Imagining Blackness
    (pp. 105-132)

    In both nineteenth-century Havana and New Orleans, the seemingly omnipresent and potentially rebellious black and mulatto populations caused a great deal of concern for the respective slave regimes. This concern can be evidenced in the growth of antiblack and anti-African expression and in the continuous efforts to divide the African-descended community along every color and class-based designation possible. The latter issue will be dealt with in the next chapter, but it is the former that is at the center of the present discussion. Although racial prejudice and derogatory depictions of Africans were not exclusively nineteenth-century phenomena, the growth of the...

  8. 5 Negotiating Racial Hierarchies: The Threat of Unity
    (pp. 133-148)

    The slave societies of nineteenth-century Havana and New Orleans implemented social-control measures targeted at space, the family, and social image, but none of these concerns eclipsed the need to destroy the potential unity of the African-descended community. More specifically, because blacks and mulattoes outnumbered whites or significantly challenged them for numerical superiority throughout much of the period, the slave regimes needed to keep this community divided.¹ By creating rewards for division and punishments for solidarity, each society tried to guard against the possibility that a unified, politically conscious African-descended community would rise up to assert its claims for liberty and...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 149-152)

    This volume has examined mechanisms of social control targeted at people of African descent in nineteenth-century Havana and New Orleans and assessed counterstatements to these objectives in representations found in the performances of El Día de Reyes and Congo Square. Although in no way exhaustive, the evidence presented sheds new light on prevailing interpretations of urban slave society, slave-centered public performances, and cultural expression by African-descended peoples in the Americas. By embarking on an integrative comparison stressing the use of diverse and at times nontraditional source materials, this work has also aimed to validate truly interdisciplinary study as a preferred...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 153-156)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-186)
  12. Index
    (pp. 187-188)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-189)