Chapter 6: Abstract

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

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

Abstract

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. This chapter argues that slavery, which involved the forcible conversion of persons to chattel through the legal and military arms of the state, is a form of warfare too, because this conversion was secured through the subjection of sexual, productive, and reproductive labor, and the erasure of genealogy and family ties. 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.

Keywords

Emancipation; Diaspora; Slavery; Slave Trade; Revolution; Gender; Men; Women; Age of Revolutions; Africa; Caribbean; United States.

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

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