São Paulo

Enslaved Motherhood and Childlessness: Comparing Brazil with other Atlantic Slave Societies

Much of the excellent work on Brazilian slavery, largely published in Portuguese, has not been taken up by Anglophone scholars. In light of this, the Mothering Slaves network will host a second symposium in Brazil that will showcase such research in comparative perspective, bringing some of the best scholarship in Brazilian history to historians of other Atlantic slave societies. About two-thirds of the participants are scholars of Brazilian slavery, most of whom are based in Brazil. To enable comparative insights, the remaining third of the participants are scholars working on other slave societies.

  • Venue: Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
  • Start: Thursday, 24th September 2015 09:00:00 BST

  • End: Friday, 25th September 2015 18:30:00 BST

Pregnancy, Childbearing and Infant Care: Historical Perspectives from Slave and Non-Slave Societies

Wednesday 8 April



Chair: Maria Helena Machado, Universidade de São Paulo

 10.30-12.30 Panel One: Thinking through Motherhood: Slavery and Beyond

Chair: Diana Paton, Newcastle University

  • Sarah L. Franklin, Motherhood and Slavery in Cuba
  • Angela Davis, Themes in British and European maternity care since 1700
  • Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Slave mothers: hidden images in the paintings of Nicolas-Antoine Taunay
 12.30-1.30 Lunch

Panel Two: The Politics of Wetnursing

Chair: Selina Patel, Newcastle University

  • Rebecca Winer, The Enslaved Wet-nurse as Nanny: Positing a transition from free to slave Labor in late medieval Spain
  • Maria Helena Machado, Between Two Beneditos: Slave Wet-Nurses amid Slavery’s Decline in Southeast Brazil
  • Emily West and Rosie Knight, Mother's Milk: enslaved wet-nursing in the US South


 3.30-4.00 Break

Keynote address

Chair: Emily West, University of Reading

7.30 Dinner in local restaurant


Thursday 9 April


Panel Three: Fertility, Population, and the Politics of Knowledge

Chair: Maria Helena Machado, Universidade de São Paulo

  • Katherine Paugh, Conceiving Fertility in the Age of Abolition: Slavery, Sexuality, and the Politics of Knowledge
  • Alexandra Cornelius, 'The Offspring No Longer Needs the Care of the Mother': Race, Labor and Social Scientific Constructions of Black Motherhood
  • Mytheli Sreenivas, Recasting Motherhood in the Era of Population Control: Examples from Postcolonial India


 11.00-11.30 Break

Panel Four: Medicine and Motherhood

Chair: Rosie Knight, University of Reading

  • Lorena Silva Telles, Slave women, breastfeeding and motherhood in nineteenth-century Brazil
  • Stephen Kenny, “Infantile therapeutics” in the slave South: an emerging field of medical research
  • Sasha Turner, “Hot and cold baths [are] necessary to keep patients clean”: Cleanliness and the Health and Culture of Slave Mothers and Infants in Jamaica


 1.30-2.30 Lunch

Round table discussion

Opening remarks from Diana Paton and Camillia Cowling