Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2022-04-21 14:58Z by Steven

Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba’s Plantations

Cambridge University Press
February 2022
320 pages
236 x 156 x 25 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781108499545
Paperback ISBN: 9781108730808

Adriana Chira, Assistant Professor of Atlantic World History
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

In nineteenth-century Santiago de Cuba, the island of Cuba’s radical cradle, Afro-descendant peasants forged freedom and devised their own formative path to emancipation. Drawing on understudied archives, this pathbreaking work unearths a new history of Black rural geography and popular legalism, and offers a new framework for thinking about nineteenth-century Black freedom. Santiago de Cuba’s Afro-descendant peasantries did not rely on liberal-abolitionist ideologies as a primary reference point in their struggle for rights. Instead, they negotiated their freedom and land piecemeal, through colonial legal frameworks that allowed for local custom and manumission. While gradually wearing down the institution of slavery through litigation and self-purchase, they reimagined colonial racial systems before Cuba’s intellectuals had their say. Long before residents of Cuba protested for national independence and island-wide emancipation in 1868, it was Santiago’s Afro-descendant peasants who, gradually and invisibly, laid the groundwork for emancipation.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Unenclosed people, unenclosed lands: Santiago de Cuba to 1800
  • 2. Foreign implants: The Saint-Domingue refugees and the limits of plantation development, 1791–1808
  • 3. Keeping people put: Enslaved families, policing, and the re-emergence of coffee planting, 1810s–1830s
  • 4. Manumission’s legalities: From need-based prerogatives to merit-based entitlements
  • 5. ‘A freedom with further bonds’: Free people of African descent, property ownership, and color status
  • 6. ‘Para levantar los negros y proclamar la República’: The beginnings of the Cuban wars of independence in Santiago de Cuba
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography
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