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Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World

Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World

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Key Metrics

  • Jessica Marie Johnson
  • University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Hardcover
  • 9780812252385
  • 8.9 X 6.1 X 0.9 inches
  • 1.45 pounds
  • History > United States - Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
  • English
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Book Description

The story of freedom pivots on the choices black women made to retain control over their bodies and selves, their loved ones, and their futures.

The story of freedom and all of its ambiguities begins with intimate acts steeped in power. It is shaped by the peculiar oppressions faced by African women and women of African descent. And it pivots on the self-conscious choices black women made to retain control over their bodies and selves, their loved ones, and their futures. Slavery's rise in the Americas was institutional, carnal, and reproductive. The intimacy of bondage whet the appetites of slaveowners, traders, and colonial officials with fantasies of domination that trickled into every social relationship--husband and wife, sovereign and subject, master and laborer. Intimacy--corporeal, carnal, quotidian--tied slaves to slaveowners, women of African descent and their children to European and African men. In Wicked Flesh, Jessica Marie Johnson explores the nature of these complicated intimate and kinship ties and how they were used by black women to construct freedom in the Atlantic world.

Johnson draws on archival documents scattered in institutions across three continents, written in multiple languages and largely from the perspective of colonial officials and slave-owning men, to recreate black women's experiences from coastal Senegal to French Saint-Domingue to Spanish Cuba to the swampy outposts of the Gulf Coast. Centering New Orleans as the quintessential site for investigating black women's practices of freedom in the Atlantic world, Wicked Flesh argues that African women and women of African descent endowed free status with meaning through active, aggressive, and sometimes unsuccessful intimate and kinship practices. Their stories, in both their successes and their failures, outline a practice of freedom that laid the groundwork for the emancipation struggles of the nineteenth century and reshaped the New World.

Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World

Author Bio

Jessica Marie Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Johns Hopkins University and a Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is also the Director of LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure. Johnson is a historian of Atlantic slavery and the Atlantic African diaspora. She is the author of Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, August 2020).


Johnson’s Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World is the:

winner of the 2020 Kemper and Leila Williams Prize for Louisiana History
winner of the 2020 Rebel Women Lit Caribbean Readers' Award
finalist for the 2021 Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for the Study of American History
honorable mention for the 2021 Barbara Christian Literary Prize from the Caribbean Studies Association
honorable mention for the 2021 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize from the French Colonial History Society/Société d'histoire coloniale française
honorable mention for the 2021 Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from the Organization of American Historians
honorable mention for the 2021 Pauli Murray Book Prize from the African American Intellectual History Society
named a "Best Black History Book" of 2020 by Black Perspectives, the publication of the African American Intellectual History Society . She is co-editor with Lauren Tilton and David Mimno of Debates in the Digital Humanities: Computational Humanities (under peer review). She is guest editor of Slavery in the Machine, a special issue of archipelagos journal (formerly sx:archipelagos) (2019) and co-editor with Dr. Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University) of Black Code: A Special Issue of the Black Scholar (2017).
 

Her work has appeared in Slavery & Abolition, The Black Scholar, Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism, American Quarterly, Social Text, The Journal of African American History, the William & Mary Quarterly, Debates in the Digital Humanities (2nd edition), Forum Journal, Bitch Magazine, Black Perspectives (AAIHS), Somatosphere and Post-Colonial Digital Humanities (DHPoco) and her book chapters have appeared in multiple edited collections.

She is the Founding Curator of #ADPhDProjects which brings social justice and histories of slavery together. She is also Co-Kin Curator at Taller Electric Marronage.  She is also a Digital Alchemist at the Center for Solutions to Online Violence and a co-organizer of the Queering Slavery Working Group with Dr. Vanessa Holden (University of Kentucky). Her past collaborations include organizing with the LatiNegrxs Project.

As a historian and Black Studies scholar, Johnson researches black diasporic freedom struggles from slavery to emancipation. As a digital humanist, Johnson explores ways digital and social media disseminate and create historical narratives, in particular, comparative histories of slavery and people of African descent.

She is the recipient of research fellowships and awards from the Mellon-African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum) at the University of Maryland, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Richards Civil War Era Center and Africana Research Center at the Pennsylvania State University, and Bowdoin College (through the Consortium for Faculty Diversity).

 

 

Source: Johns Hopkins Department of History 

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