Exquisite Slaves: Race, Clothing, and Status in Colonial Lima

Tamara J Walker (Author)


In Exquisite Slaves, Tamara J. Walker examines how slaves used elegant clothing as a language for expressing attitudes about gender and status in the wealthy urban center of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Lima, Peru. Drawing on traditional historical research methods, visual studies, feminist theory, and material culture scholarship, Walker argues that clothing was an emblem of not only the reach but also the limits of slaveholders' power and racial domination. Even as it acknowledges the significant limits imposed on slaves' access to elegant clothing, Exquisite Slaves also showcases the insistence and ingenuity with which slaves dressed to convey their own sense of humanity and dignity. Building on other scholars' work on slaves' agency and subjectivity in examining how they made use of myriad legal discourses and forums, Exquisite Slaves argues for the importance of understanding the body itself as a site of claims-making.

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
April 11, 2019
6.0 X 0.55 X 9.0 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Tamara J. Walker earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. Her previous work has appeared in Slavery and Abolition, Safundi, Gender and History, and the Journal of Family History.


Advance praise: 'Exquisite Slaves represents a unique and distinctive contribution to the history of racial formation in Spanish America which will command the attention of the scholarly community. This book considerably deepens our understanding of colonial racial formation.' Herman Bennett, City University of New York
Advance praise: 'Walker's invigorating analysis of enslaved and freed cultural agency is a welcome contribution to the history of slavery. Her unique focus on manners of dress and gendered public presentation underlines how slavery was rooted not just in daily events, but in intimate senses of self and others. Informed by an Atlantic vision, Walker's close reading of imagery and text charts a new path for how to write a history of the African Diaspora in Latin America.' Rachel Sarah O'Toole, University of California, Irvine