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Title: Hierarchies and honour among enslaved men in the antebellum South
Author: Doddington, David Stefan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 6143
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
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When exploring the histories of male slaves in the antebellum South, there remains a tendency for them to feature as a singular entity; the failures and successes of male slaves are often discussed as all encompassing and identical. However, in defining male slaves as a monolithic entity seeking to affirm manhood in the face of oppression and attempted emasculation by white society, there is a danger that we remain wedded to a “white/black” dichotomy that neglects the complexity of interactions among enslaved people and issues of intersectionality. It is vital that we do not ignore the plurality of gender as a social and cultural construct and the manner in which enslaved people conceptualised and created gender identities from a variety of different attributes and ideals. Scholars have increasingly made it clear that socially becoming “male” or “female” was not biological destiny in the antebellum South, but there remains comparatively less attention to the multiplicity of masculinities among enslaved men. Yet enslaved men were not a homogenous body and nor was there a single understanding of what being a man meant in slave communities. Multiple understandings of, and a variety of ideals, were invoked as evidence of “manhood” by contemporaries, white and black, that went beyond any simplistic, singular, or naturalised model. Enslaved people formulated and articulated multiple models of masculinity, drawing upon a variety of different and potentially conflicting contemporary ideals to create masculine identities and a sense of selfhood. Furthermore, this sense of a gendered self could come through comparison with, and refusal of other “masculine” behaviours in their communities: enslaved men could rank themselves as men in direct comparison to others in their communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Association for American Studies ; British Library ; University of Warwick ; British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: F001 United States local history