Chapter 5: Abstract

Gender, Slavery, War and Violence in and beyond the Age of Revolutions

(Elizabeth Colwill, University of Hawaii, Departent of American Studies)

In Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600, ed. by Karen Hagemann et al. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 138-57.


A definition of war limited to fields of battle orchestrated by monarchs or nation states elides a primary form of state-sponsored violence at the heart of European wars of empire—slavery. Slavery involved the forcible conversion of persons to chattel through the legal and military arms of the state—a conversion secured through the subjection of sexual, productive, and reproductive labor, and the erasure of genealogies and family ties. In this sense, slavery could be seen as a protracted state of war. Armed conflict fuelled the slave trade, slave revolts blended into “official” wars, and enslaved people sometimes spoke of slavery as a state of war. Soldiers and the state march front and center in the archives, their presence camouflaging the gendered implications of warfare for women, families, and statecraft. Yet armed conflict in the Age of Revolution spilled beyond the battlefield, constructed distinct pathways to emancipation for men and women, and enshrined new, gendered forms of citizenship. These interrelated themes are the focus of this chapter.


Haitian Revolution; Caribbean; Atlantic World; slavery; transatlantic slave trade; citizenship; slave soldiers; gender; reproduction; masculinity.

In Part I “From the Thirty Years War and Colonial Conquest to the Wars of Revolution and Independence” of the Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600.

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