American Quadroon: The Strange History of Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World

TitleAmerican Quadroon: The Strange History of Free Women of Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsClark, Emily
Number of Pages279
PublisherThe University of North Carolina Press
CityChapel Hill
Abstract

This valuable contribution to studies of race, gender, and the revolutionary Atlantic disentangles the figure of the quadroon from the lived experience of mixed-race women. Against the stereotypes of the "tragic mulatta" and the "fancy lady" in the early nineteenth-century press and literature, Clark draws on baptismal, marriage, and funeral records to reveal ongoing traditions of legal marriage within the free black communities in colonial New Orleans and Saint-Domingue. By contrast, mixed-race, refugee women – often ménagères (housekeepers) from revolutionary Saint-Domingue – faced demographic imbalance and discriminatory laws that fostered relationships of concubinage as a survival strategy. Clark suggests that the Haitian Revolution also fueled whites' fears of slave insurrection, channeled in the US imaginary through the sexualized figure of the quadroon. An exoticized image of New Orleans as "foreign" would prove an ideological bulwark against the reality of racial mixing in the early US. 

URLhttps://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469607535_clark
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900011295

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