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African Gender History Readings.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Nakanyike Musisi

Making the Chikunda: Military Slavery and Ethnicity in Southern Africa, 1750-1990 By Allen Isaacman and Derek Peterson - this article explores how military slaves in Portuguese-run estates along the Zamezi River (in contemporary Mozambique) came to define themselves as sharers of a new social identity, Chikunda (”the conquerors”) - chikunda was the product of slaves’ own cultural and political work  they formed this identity in order to set themselves apart from the local peasantry, gain leverage with owners, and lend meaning and prestige to their lives of danger - the Portuguese crown granted powerful traders titles to massive estates known as prazos  they were prazeiros  exploitive economy based in peasant surplus  prazo system, it is not surprising that they relied on military power to support their authority  they recruited and armed slaves - entering the Chikunda had advantages: recruits gained imported goods, sometimes land, wives, the right to hunt on the estate  this were very beneficial for vulnerable individuals - the slave soldiers lived apart from local peasants  lived in regimental villages called butaka  peasants had their own villages and they never mixed - each butaka had a political hierarchy with a slave chief (mukazambo) - chuanga or achuanga (plural) were the most loyal slaves  supervised the collection of taxes  they received a portion of the taxes for their loyalty - the multiple functions that the chikunda performed highlights the relationship between military slavery, economic production, and political consolidation on the prazos  for estates holders, they were a means of controlling the peasants living on the estates - their wives cultivated small fields  a clear defined division of labour existed within chikunda communties  farming was women’s work and hunting, commerce and warfare was done by men - the chikunda had a disdain for agriculture  not doing it set them apart from women and peasants - the chikunda were patrilineal  the children could not leave, they stayed and remained chikunda  land, property, and family identity was passed through the males - clothing marked status and power on prazos  calico was their standard dress, which they flaunted  the women made blouses from calico  this attire set them apart from peasants - the chikunda boys were taught how to make war and to defend the prazos  girls learned how to cook, keep house, make mats and pots, and perform domestic labor - the prazos had been the crucible of Chikuna identity. Slave soldiers became chikunda in order to dignify their lives of danger and to differentiate themselves from peasants. Their shared sense of consciousness grew out of their shared political and economic position and was idealized in their dress, their language, and their unifying rituals and traditions Competing Markets for Male and Female Slaves: Prices in the Interior of West Africa, 1780-1850 By Paul E. Lovejoy and David Richardson - this paper attempts to pull together data on slaves prices between 1780-1850 on the interior of West Africa and to interpret their patterns - Interior states of West Africa  much demand centered on females - More akin to prices of the trans-saharan than atlantic: female slaves cost more than male slaves - The gender based differentials in the prices on the interior might indicate the excess of male slaves to female - Comparison  as many males were exported from the central sudan as females; the price premium on females must have reflected a strong internal demand for female slaves in the interior, just as the premium on male slaves at the Atlantic coast reflected a strong American demand for adult slaves - Prices of slaves from Interior West Africa: o Males were considered to cost one-half to two thirds as much as females o Prices doubled for slaves from 1770’s and 80’s to the 90’s o 1849-50 (Richardson)  girls with little breast: 40,000 cowries, women with breasts hanging down: 80,000, women with plump breasts: 100 000 o males  with beards just beginning: 30,000, males with beards 10,000- 15,000 o essentially, females $20-50, males $7.50-15 - Patterns in Interior West African trade: o Overall, older men cost about the same as older women, but young women and girls both cost significantly more than males of the same age - Generally, males had cost more than females at the Atlantic coast and females costing more than males in North Africa - The prices of slaves generally fell after the British abolition in 1807 - The age and gender structure of the trans-Atlantic slave trade between 1811-1867 was characterized by a more evenly balanced population of enslaved women, men and children, especially from West Africa - The Saharan and trans-Saharan market were interested more in females, destined for harems and domestic service, and a few high priced boys, while the trans- Atlantic demand favored prime males - Authors believe that price data indicates that the Internal West African trade catered to a series of markets  one in the Sahara and beyond that wanted women and young boys, a coastal market directly linked to the America’s that preferred males, and a coastal market that absorbed children, males, and females Slave Ransoming in German East Africa, 1885-1992 By Thaddeus Sunseri - Slave ransoming was the basis of German abolition policy after 1900 and reflected the colonial state’s need for African labour during the building stages of the colonial economy - originated from pre-colonial practices of slaves acting as workers with limited autonomy from their masters. - Ransoming reflected the tensions between African and European dominant classes and states. Competition between these elites for slave labour gave slaves leverage to extended control over their lives. By using ransoming to their advantage, slaves showed that they were not just passive objects of colonial abolition policy - Swahili slavery  gender determined a slave’s social position  women slaves were less assimilated into Islamic culture than men  Islamic culture was patrilineal, hierarchical and male dominated  over time, slave men tended to identify with this  women preserved non Islamic sub-cultures as offering them greater opportunities for physical and cultural autonomy - The Slave Economy under German Rule: o 1901 ordinance allowed slaves to end their bondage by paying ransom law paralleled the colonial state’s promotion of cash crops o German abolition was intended to effect a social engineering of both owners and producers, to create relations of production like those on European plantations. Through ransoming, slaves were incorporated into an economic system producing new materials for German industry - Slave Ransoming on Mafia Island: o Women typically did agricultural work, children did work to the field free of pests, where as men did more strenuous jobs such as climbing coconut trees o Slaves had access to plots of land for personal food production  “pesant breach” this gave them some autonomy from their masters o men and women ransomed together to suggest that ransoming was used to establish a household autonomy denied to them as slaves  slave owners prevented marriage in fear of losing control of women who marries slaves of other masters o Ransoming fostered animosity between slave owners and planters  planters enticed slaves with freedom, eroding the authority of the owner  Disputes often occurred between the two  planters held leverage however because the law encouraged ransoms o Women slaves were faced wit
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