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Africans and Creoles in the coffee plantations in Southeast Brazil: motherhood, slavery and everyday life (19th century, Campinas)

Grant number: 21/10931-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Brazil
Principal Investigator:Robert Wayne Andrew Slenes
Grantee:Lorena Féres da Silva Telles
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The aim of this research is to investigate the experiences, worldviews and maternity practices of enslaved African women and their descendants, involving pregnancies, births, breastfeeding and raising babies and young children, in the coffee estates in Campinas, West of São Paulo during the 19th century. The project will seek to examine, in the sources and in the historiography, issues related to motherhood and the enslaver's policies to encourage births - such as providing periods of puerperal protection, lighter activities for pregnant women and breastfeeding opportunities for babies and nursing mothers -, in the context of pressures to end the transatlantic traffic in the period of coffee expansion in the 1830s, in the scenario after its definitive end in 1850, reaching the final decades of the century with the enactment of the Free Womb Law and the concentration of enslaved people in large estates during the regime's dismantling period. With the contribution of literature on motherhood in slave societies in the Americas and the Caribbean, this project intends to investigate the specific circumstances regarding pregnancy, the assistance to childbirth, the time of postpartum care and breastfeeding practices among African women and their descendants in coffee farms throughout the century. The central question that animates the project refers to the strategies and sociabilities mobilized by enslaved African women and their descendants, as well as the ways they confronted the difficulties imposed by their owners to motherhood, as the exploitation of their labor during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period. (AU)

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