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Micol Seigel

a mythical figure of black womanhood popularized in post-independence Brazilian history and memory. She is a composite of enslaved Afro-Brazilian wet nurses and domestic workers, conjured as an archetype in literature, music, art, public monuments, and political movements. Her image has served a range of ideological missions, shifting in relation to changing social hierarchies, race relations, labor migrations, gender conventions, and urban demography. Revealing as much about the eras that produced them as the historical people her images represent, views of her persona have oscillated from romantic fantasy to antipathy to nostalgia to critique.

For much of the nineteenth century, the Mãe Preta functioned as an iteration of the myth of the faithful slave, free of the risk of sexual corruption represented by the mulata. As the century progressed, particularly after the Law of the Free Womb of 1871 abolitionists invoked a contrastingly menacing Mãe Preta to sound ...

Article

Juan Otero-Garabis

As a child, Esteban Montejo escaped a sugar plantation to live as a maroon until the abolition of slavery in 1885. His memories were published by the Cuban writer Miguel Barnet in Maroon's Biography (1966), considered a pioneering work of the Latin American testimonial genre. The first part of the book is one of the most detailed descriptions of the harsh working and living conditions of slaves on the sugar plantations. Montejo's account of his survival as a solitary runaway affirms that hunger and lack of shelter were preferable to living the life of a slave.

In the last part of the book Montejo narrates his experience in the Cuban Liberation Army during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898). His account underscores the important role played by the Afro-Cuban officials and soldiers, particularly of Antonio Maceo This section of the book also describes the ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Rabih al-Zubayr was born in Sudan, probably near Khartoum, though the details of his early life are uncertain. Some believe that he was originally a slave freed by his master, Zubayr Rahma Mansur, while others think he was born free and joined the Turkic-Egyptian army before working for Zubayr, the largest slave-trader in southern Sudan. He joined Zubayr’s company in 1850 and had become a competent military leader by 1875, when the British declared slavery illegal.

When the British forcibly shut down Zubayr s operations four years later Rabih gathered what was left of Zubayr s slave army and established a raiding stronghold in the Azande region to the west During the 1880s Rabih and his army attacked and pillaged groups such as the Banda and Sara In the early 1890s Rabih defeated a French expedition and conquered the Bagirmi state in present day Chad from which he staged ...