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Engendering whiteness

Engendering whiteness: White women and colonialism in Barbados and North Carolina, 1627–1865

Authors: Dr Cecily Jones
ISBN: 9780719064326
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Price: £55.00 (hardback)

Engendering whiteness represents a comparative analysis of the complex interweaving of race, gender, social class and sexuality in defining the contours of white women's lives in Barbados and North Carolina during the era of slavery. Despite their gendered subordination, their social location within the dominant white group afforded all white women a range of privileges. Hence, their whiteness, as much as their gender, shaped these women's social identities and material realities.

Engendering whiteness draws on a wide variety of sources including property deeds, wills and court transcripts, and interrogates the ways in which white women could be simultaneously socially positioned within plantation societies as both agents and as victims. It also reveals the strategies deployed by elite and poor white women in these societies to resist their gendered subordination, to challenge the ideological and social constraints that sought to restrict their lives to the private domestic sphere, to protect the limited rights afforded to them, to secure independent livelihoods, and to create meaningful existences.

This is a fascinating study that with be welcomed by historians of imperialism as well as scholars of gender history and women's studies.

List of abbreviations
1. Mapping racial boundaries: Gender, race and poor relief in Barbados
2. 'Worse than [white] men, much worse than the negroes…': Sexuality, labour and poor white women in North Carolina
3. To serve her own desires': White Barbadian women and property holding
4. 'There may be my sphere of usefulness…': The making of a North Carolinian plantation mistress
5. White lives, Black bodies: Barbadian women and slaveholding
6. 'She Would Labor Almost Night and Day': White women, property rights and slave-holding in North Carolina

Cecily Jones is Associate Professor in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick