Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing, and Slavery in Jamaica


Product Details

University of Pennsylvania Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 10.2 X 0.6 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Sasha Turner is Associate Professor of History at Quinnipiac University.


"An original and timely intervention in the histories of slavery, gender, and labor. In arguing that reproduction played a crucial role across a number of political and social divides, Contested Bodies becomes an excellent window through which we can understand the economies (both moral and financial), culture, intimacies, protests, labor, and power in which the institution of slavery is imbricated."--Jennifer L. Morgan, New York University

"Turner has given us a well-researched and interesting study which enriches our understanding of the history of enslaved people in the Caribbean, and reminds us that reproduction was at the heart of the abolitionist project for the British slave colonies."--Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

"Contested Bodies will be required reading for those who wish to understand the intimate workings of slavery in the Atlantic world. It draws on meticulous archival research to reveal the everyday practices of reproduction among enslaved women in Jamaica, including pregnancy, birth, and the care of infants. Sasha Turner shows how, in the later period of slavery, planters' efforts to increase the numbers of children born to enslaved women along with abolitionists' attention to the exploitation of women's reproductive capacity, politicised all aspects of enslaved women's reproductive lives. Turner's work reveals the significance of struggles over reproduction not just as an aspect of women's experiences of slavery, but also as contests at the heart of the system of slavery as a whole."--Diana Paton, University of Edinburgh

"Contested Bodies makes a vital contribution to studies on enslaved women as well as to the historiography on slavery and emancipation. Turner succeeds in centralizing the experiences of enslaved women and children, at the same time as she politicizes the meaning and significance of their responses to slavery reforms. Just as convincingly, she reveals that reproduction and the treatment and care of enslaved women and children were pivotal to the politics of slavery and abolition in Britain and Jamaica."--Gender and History

"Turner's sensitive and skillful reading of planter- and physician-authored accounts allows her to uncover fascinating details about the intimate domestic rituals and practices of enslaved women. She highlights the security and sense of community that their childbirth practices offered, with their comforting echoes of African and African-derived practices, and their social and educational roles."--American Historical Review

"Contested Bodies will be useful in graduate and undergraduate courses on slavery, women's history, diaspora studies, and the history of medicine. It is a must-read for those who want to know more about the intersection of gender and slavery."--Journal of American History

"Contested Bodies is a path-breaking book, offering a new analysis of the impact of the end of the transatlantic slave trade on the actual persons of enslaved women and their children. It will become essential reading for those interested in the history of slavery, the history of women, and the history of the Atlantic."--Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania

"Contested Bodies is a compelling, clearly written, and important book. Turner succeeds in showing how conflicts over reproduction and women's bodies were at the heart of some of the most important power struggles during the era of abolition--for the British Empire, for slaveowners, and for slaves themselves.''--Slavery and Abolition