‘Lives of living death’: The reproductive lives of slave women in the cane world of Louisiana

Follett, Richard (2005) ‘Lives of living death’: The reproductive lives of slave women in the cane world of Louisiana. Slavery and Abolition, 26 (2). pp. 289-304. ISSN 0144-039X

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Abstract

This paper examines the seasonality of childbirth among slave women and addresses the relationship between seasonal workloads, nutrition, and pregnancy on large sugar plantations in nineteenth-century Louisiana. Unlike the rest of the American South, where the slave population grew, bondspeople in southern Louisiana experienced natural population decrease. This derived in part from imbalanced sex ratios, but as this article shows, conceptions peaked during the annual harvest season but fell away at other times due to nutritional stress, overwork, heat, and exhaustion. By combining plantation sources with contemporary scholarship on reproductive physiology, the article places Louisiana's reproductive history in contest and establishes the limits sugar production imposed on the slave women's capacity for childbirth.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
Subjects: E History America
E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life
Depositing User: Richard Follett
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:30
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2012 13:39
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26284
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