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Gendered Resistance

Gendered Resistance: Women, Slavery, and the Legacy of Margaret Garner

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Gendered Resistance
    Book Description:

    Inspired by the searing story of Margaret Garner, the escaped slave who in 1856 slit her daughter's throat rather than have her forced back into slavery, the essays in this collection focus on historical and contemporary examples of slavery and women's resistance to oppression from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. Each chapter uses Garner's example--the real-life narrative behind Toni Morrison's Beloved and the opera Margaret Garner--as a thematic foundation for an interdisciplinary conversation about gendered resistance in locations including Brazil, Yemen, India, and the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09516-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Darlene Clark Hine

    For decades I have been haunted by Margaret Garner. In the 1980s while heading the Black Women in the Middle West Archival Creation Project, I sought documents to shed light on the lives and experiences of all black women during the slavery era. This quest led me to a newspaper clipping about Margaret Garner’s futile effort to escape from inherited perpetual slavery in order to build a free life with her children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her dreams of freedom quickly turned into a nightmare of unimaginable horror. When recapture seemed imminent and inescapable, Garner, rather than consign her baby girl...

    (pp. xi-xx)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Re(dis)covering and Recreating the Cultural Milieu of Margaret Garner
    (pp. 1-22)
    Delores M. Walters

    Margaret Garner’s act of infanticide represents the most drastic and extreme form of woman-centered resistance to the brutality of slavery. In 1856, when Garner killed her two-year-old daughter and attempted to kill her other three children rather than see them returned to slavery, her story was sensationalized in newspaper accounts that piqued the consciousness of the nation. Garner’s desperate solution to “save” her children continues to capture our interest and awe. Toni Morrison’s newest revival of the Garners’ horrific yet heroic tale is the libretto forMargaret Garner. While demonstrating her distinctive, imaginative artistry, Morrison’s depiction of Margaret Garner in...


    • CHAPTER 1 A Mother’s Arithmetic: Elizabeth Clark Gaines’s Journey from Slavery to Freedom
      (pp. 25-48)
      Mary E. Frederickson

      In 1991, after the publication ofBeloved, Toni Morrison addressed an audience of a thousand historians at the Organization of American Historians meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. After a stirring introduction by Darlene Clark Hine, the crowded conference ballroom grew quiet as Morrison spoke of the importance of remembering those who “brought you over,” those who made it possible “to get to the other side.” She had taken the process of making sense of the past to an entirely new level inBeloved, a novel that pivots on the tension between “keeping the past at bay” and the act of remembering.¹...

    • CHAPTER 2 Coerced but Not Subdued: The Gendered Resistance of Women Escaping Slavery
      (pp. 49-76)
      Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

      Margaret Garner’s story of resistance and escape from slavery is emblematic of the experiences of enslaved women who fled the multiple and gendered oppressions of the slave regime. From the earliest days of slavery to the end of the Civil War, women escaped bondage while attempting to maintain a firm grip on both their families and the hope of liberty. Women displayed uncommon courage, determination, steadfastness, and even ruthlessness in seeking to deliver themselves, their children, and their families out of bondage. For the most part, however, an analysis of women’s collective experiences of escape has been difficult to document....

    • CHAPTER 3 Secret Agents: Black Women Insurgents on Abolitionist Battlegrounds
      (pp. 77-98)
      Veta Smith Tucker

      The confrontation over the abolition of slavery in America has been framed by historians and in the popular imagination as primarily a contest between Northern and Southern men. As a result, abolitionist resistance performed by women—black and white, enslaved and free—has not received the attention given to resistance by men. Nineteenth-century women as a group were typically viewed as passive vessels preoccupied with domestic duties, ill equipped intellectually to understand the machinery of politics, and too weak physically and emotionally to use violence to confront the power of Southern slaveholders. Seldom were black women, in particular, viewed as...

    • CHAPTER 4 Enslaved Women’s Resistance and Survival Strategies in Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “The Slave Mother: A Tale of the Ohio” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Margaret Garner
      (pp. 99-114)
      Kristine Yohe

      Throughout the history of the United States, African American women have frequently been abused sexually, a circumstance particularly pervasive during slavery. Enslaved women’s resistance to subjugation has taken many forms, from escape to suicide to murder. These women’s responses to abuse have always been gendered: their resistance often had direct connections to their status as women, including their roles as cooks and house servants, as well as their status as mothers and objects of sexual predation. While the domestic sphere of many enslaved women provided ready access to their sometimes-covert resistance, it also meant that they were often victimized by...

    • CHAPTER 5 Can Quadroon Balls Represent Acquiescence or Resistance?
      (pp. 115-132)
      Diana Williams

      Because of its reputed role in facilitating quasi-marital contracts across the color line between white men and free women of color, the quadroon ball offers an interesting perspective on American conceptions of consent. For more than two centuries, countless pieces of Americana have represented female “quadroons”—women possessing one fourth black and three fourths white “blood,” including folk and minstrel songs, poetry, short stories, popular novels, ex-slave narratives, collectible dolls, and even science fiction stories. A typical description of such balls appeared in theProvidence Gazetteon August 7, 1820:

      Every Saturday night is ushered in with splendid quadroon balls...


    • CHAPTER 6 “Freedom Just Might be Possible”: Suraj Kali’s Moment of Decision
      (pp. 135-146)
      Jolene Smith

      Suraj Kali woke every morning at six o’clock to begin her workday in slavery, pounding gravel into sand with a hammer. Her family had been held in slavery in Uttar Pradesh, India, for generations, children inheriting from their parents a bogus, illegal debt that could never be paid off. “My parents, my in-laws, they all died as slaves,” she explained. For many years, Suraj assumed that she and her husband and children would have the same fate. A life of slavery was all they had ever known. They were each born into it, since Suraj’s parents and grandparents had all...

    • CHAPTER 7 Marginality and Allegories of Gendered Resistance: Experiences from Southern Yemen
      (pp. 147-170)
      Huda Seif

      Forces of spirit possession cut across time and space.¹ The compelling presence of the devil and malevolent spirits calledjinnin the Delta region of southern Yemen in the 1990s echo accounts of spirits, tricksters, orayein West African and New World cultures. Margaret Garner’s life history as interpreted by Toni Morrison inBelovedconnects us with a spiritual world of memory and possession that mirrors the experience of women spiritual healers and their patients in Yemen’sal-WadiDelta. Internal and external struggles for control dominate Morrison’s narrative of enslaved American women and the lives of women agricultural workers...

    • CHAPTER 8 Resurrecting Chica da Silva: Gender, Race, and Nation in Brazilian Popular Culture
      (pp. 171-190)
      Raquel L. de Souza

      On April 28, 2008, I spent the day translating for the prominent Black Brazilian filmmaker, Joel Zito Araújo, who was finalizing his documentaryCinderellas, Wolves, and Prince Charming, detailing the intricate networks of the sexual tourism industry.¹ Araújo’s film reveals a pattern in which white European men travel to Brazil in order to fulfill their sexual desires and fantasies, more often than not with women of African descent. The Afro-Brazilian women and male homosexuals Araújo interviews state that through their participation in sex tourism they are enabled by their foreign suitors to acquire material goods and enjoy leisure and entertainment...

    • CHAPTER 9 The Psychological Aftereffects of Racialized Sexual Violence
      (pp. 191-205)
      Cathy McDaniels-Wilson

      When I was invited to contribute to this anthology on enslaved women—whom I identify as our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends—I thought about my years of clinical work with girls and women of color who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse and the countless queries from students, colleagues, patients, and others who have asked me why these clients stay in abusive relationships. The answer, unfortunately, is neither simple nor easy to explain. To better understand racialized intimate partner violence, we must acknowledge the bridge between past and present. This process begins by examining abuse...

    • CHAPTER 10 Art and Memory: Healing Body, Mind, Spirit
      (pp. 206-222)
      Carolyn Mazloomi, Nailah Randall Bellinger, Olivia Cousins, S. Pearl Sharp and Catherine Roma

      The Gendered Resistance Symposium, sponsored by Miami University and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, featured the artwork of seven contemporary women. Fabric artist Carolyn Mazloomi opened the conference withA Piece of My Mind, a powerful quilt exhibit on the history of sexual abuse and violence, which she prepared for the conference. Performance artist Vanessa Johnson brought a series of historical documents to life inGriot Stories, an original interpretation of the boundaries between slavery and freedom. Anthropologist and poet Irma McClaurin’s keynote, “ReVisioning a World without Violence against Women,” wove a tapestry of words revealing a transcendent future...

    (pp. 223-228)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 229-234)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-236)