Motherhood, Childlessness, and the Care of Children from Slavery to Emancipation

Tuesday 19th April – Thursday 21st April 2016

Cedars Hotel and Conference Centre

University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus 


Watercolour on Paper

Image: Grace Green, ‘Mother and Child’ (10x8in), watercolour on paper

Grace Green is studying BA (Hons) Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art; a painter and

currently interested in the maternal bond between mother and child.


Tuesday 19th April


1.25: Welcome from Emily West.


1.30-3.30: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 1: Enslaved mothers: maternal bodies in comparative perspective

Chair: Maria-Helena Machado, o Paulo

Stephanie Jones-Rogers (University of California, Berkeley): Black Milk: Maternal Bodies, Wet Nursing, and Black Women’s Invisible Labor in the Antebellum Slave Market.

Martha Santos (University of Akron): “Slave Wombs,” “Slave Mothers” and the Naturalization of Slave Reproduction in Nineteenth-Century Brazil.

Jenifer Barclay (Washington State University): “Bad Breeders” and “Monstrosities”: Racism, Childlessness and Congenital Disabilities in the Era of American Slavery.

Cami Beekman (Rice University): “‘Erring Women’: Abortion, Infanticide, and Co-producing Culture and Science in the American South.”


3.30-4.00: Refreshment break, Cedars Seminar Room 2.


4.00-6.00: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 2: Images and representations of enslaved mothers

Chair: Nicole King, Reading

Fernando de Sousa Rocha (Middlebury College): Mothering Slaves in Machado de Assis’s Narratives.

Kimberley Wallace-Sanders (Emory University): Slavery and Other Mothers: Black Mammies, Nannies and White Children in Portraiture.

Alison Donnell (University of Reading): Contesting Thistlewood: enslaved subjects and the limits of representation in Joscelyn Gardener’s Creole Portraits II and III.


6.00-6.45: Drinks Reception.

Sponsored by the Department of History, and Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science, University of Reading.


6.45: Hot buffet dinner at Blandford’s Dining Room.


Wednesday 20th April


9.00-11.00: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 3: Women’s perspectives on freedom and abolition

Chair: Diana Paton, Newcastle

Crystal Webster (University of Massachusetts, Amherst): In Pursuit of Autonomous Black Motherhood: Northern Black Women's Writings on Womanhood, Motherhood, and Childhood.

Natasha Lightfoot (Columbia University): “So Far to Leeward”: Disrupted Ties of Motherhood in Eliza Moore’s Freedom Journey.

Sean Condon (Merrimack College): Margaret Mercer on motherhood and slavery.


11.00-11.30: Refreshment break, Cedars Seminar Room 2.


11.30-1.00: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 4: Children in Slavery and Freedom

Chair: Inge Dornan, Brunel

Jane-Marie Collins (University of Nottingham): Emotion and Interest: re-evaluating childhood manumission, Salvador da Bahia, 1830-1871.

Laura Candian Fraccaro (Universida de Estadual de Campinas): Freed women and their children on guardianship records, Campinas, second half of nineteenth century.

Rachael Pasierowska (Rice University): “This is a thoroughbred boy”: Exploring the lives of slave children and animals in the Atlantic World.


1.00-2.00: Lunch, Cedars Seminar Room 2.


2.00-4.00: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 5: Enslaved mothers on plantations and beyond

Chair: Rosie Knight, Reading

Dawn P. Harris (Stony Brook University): Mothering from the Interstices: The Plantation Economy and Enslaved Women’s Parental Authority.

Mariana de Aguiar Ferreira Muaze (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro): Motherhood experiences in captivity: an analysis of family, maternity, and childhood on the big plantations of the Paraíba Valley (Brazil) and Mississippi Valley.

Lucia Bergamasco (University of Orléans): Enslaved mothers and motherhood in the western US Border States.

Heather Cateau (University of West Indies, St Augustine): "Management of Motherhood" - Reproduction in 18th Century Caribbean Slave Societies.



5.30: Museum of English Rural Life, Foyer

Drinks reception sponsored by the School of Literature and Languages, University of Reading.


6.00: Museum of English Rural Life, Conference Room.

Andrea Stuart, author of Sugar in the Blood, in conversation with Alison Donnell.


7.30: Ethiopian buffet at RISC.


Thursday 21st April


9.00-10.30: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 6: Rape and Interracial Relationships

Chair: Laura Sandy, Liverpool

Mariana Libanio de Rezenda Dantas (Ohio University): African Mothers and Pardo Children: the formation of mixed-race families in eighteenth-century Sabará, Minas Gerais.

Meleisa Ono-George (University of Warwick): Interracial Sex, Motherhood and the Movement for Civil Equality in Jamaican Slave Society, 1829-1833.

Andrea Livesey (University of Liverpool): Enslaved Mothers and the Children Born of Rape in the Nineteenth-Century US South: Trauma, Attachment and Survival.


10.30-11.00: Refreshment break, Cedars Seminar Room 2.


11.00-12.30: Cedars Meeting Room

Panel 7: Enslaved mothers, slavery and freedom

Chair: Camillia Cowling, Warwick

Cassia Roth (UCLA): From Property to Person: Fertility Control in Pre- and Post-Emancipation Rio de Janeiro.

Marília B. A. Ariza (University of São Paulo): Child laborers and freed mothers: slavery, emancipation, labour and motherhood in the city of São Paulo.


12.30-1.30: Lunch, Cedars Seminar Room 2.


1.30-3.00: Concluding roundtable, led by Maria-Helena Machado, Diana Paton, and Emily West, Cedars Meeting Room.