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The free womb law and the representations of black women in nineteeth-century Brazil

Grant number: 18/20786-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2019
Effective date (End): April 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Brazil
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado
Grantee:Caroline Passarini Sousa
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


After independence, with the pioneer project of José Bonifácio on the gradual emancipation of slavery, Brazil begins to reflect on a future abolition. Although the slave trade has supplanted the need for vegetative growth of the enslaved force, in the middle of the nineteenth century, as some scholars have pointed out, population growth has also depended on natural reproduction. In slavery, women played an important role of a dual producer, as a worker who provided profit to her owner, and as a reproducer, which increased increasing ownership through your children. From the 1850s forward, deputies and senators started to discuss the reconfiguration of the slave system. Debates on the emancipation of slaves intensified between 1868 and 1871, when proposals of free womb were intensely discussed in parliament. It is interesting to note that the discussions and major projects of gradual end of slavery turned to the slave womb. Once again, it is remarkable the centrality of the enslaved woman. The Law of the Free Womb, although it is known to free the unborn, has not yet reached the centrality of the mother in this process, since it is the woman the carrier for emancipation. Even though this reality is quite simple to be noticed, historiography has not been given attention to this theme. Thus, through the parliamentary debates in the annals of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, we intend to analyze how different projects reflected on the role played by enslaved women in the way out of slavery, how they represented her projecting their future role in the free society. The objective of this project is to follow all the formulations and opinions around the Law of the Free Womb about enslaved women, trying to analyze how her figure is being evaluated about her performance, her body, sexuality, reproductive capacity, especially what is the historical role attributed to these women in the exercise of motherhood. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
SOUSA, Caroline Passarini. Partus sequitur ventrem: reproduction and motherhood in the settlement of slavery and abolition in the Americas until the first half of 19th century. 2021. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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