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AFRICAN WOMEN IN COLONIAL BRAZIL The social and economic history of Colonial Latin America was greatly influenced by the importation of more than five million Africans spanning from the 16th Century until the 19th Century Although African history in Colonial Brazil is dominated by images of male slaves it was a diverse palate of races genders and social classes that is sadly neglected in historical text especially African women Through sources concerning plantation and urban slavery in Robert Edgar Conrads documentary of primary sources Children of Gods Fire the various roles and levels of social degradation of slave women free African women and mulattas in Brazilian society are illustrated and finally recognized in historical text African women living on Brazilian plantations worked in the fields and in the slave owners house According to a Brazilian Consul in Recife newly arrived African women bozalas worked as hard as the enslaved men hoeing and hacking crops with a scythe for up to eighteen hours a day Some women even worked at the sugar mills Conrad pg 64 picture This labor intensive position offered marginal room for self-advancement because they could not could not speak Spanish and usually had darker skin than other acculturated Africans which placed them into the wretched rabble Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora Reader pg 118 of Colonial Latin American society Slave women had virtually no means of income and those few slave women who did had to spend their own menial earnings when they wanted to organize a festival since they could not lawfully accumulate much money of their own Conrad pg 60 Spanish nobles viewed these women as unskilled and not capable of any job other than physical labor As a result pregnant black women and those nursing their babies were not excused from hoeing In some hard labor prevented the normal development of the fetus Conrad pg 100 African slave women endured many other physical and sexually abusive
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