A restoration of the agency and influence of free African-descended women in colonial Mexico through their traces in archives
“A breathtaking study that places free African-descended women at the nexus of questions about religion, commerce, and the law in colonial Mexico. Danielle Terrazas Williams has produced a dazzling and important contribution to the history of women, family, race, and slavery in the Americas.”—Sophie White, author of Voices of the Enslaved
The Capital of Free Women examines how African-descended women strove for dignity in seventeenth-century Mexico. Free women in central Veracruz, sometimes just one generation removed from slavery, purchased land, ran businesses, managed intergenerational wealth, and owned slaves of African descent. Drawing from archives in Mexico, Spain, and Italy, Danielle Terrazas Williams explores the lives of African-descended women across the economic spectrum, evaluates their elite sensibilities, and challenges notions of race and class in the colonial period.
Danielle Terrazas Williams is associate professor in the School of History at the University of Leeds. She won the Kimberly S. Hanger Prize from the Southern Historical Association for the research and writing of material included in this book.
“A wonderfully rich book, alive with vivid vignettes of enterprising women who supported themselves and their families. . . . It contains valuable insights into the history of women and the family, of slavery and racial mixture and of the regional economy.”—Silvia Arrom, Revista
“A welcome addition to the growing historiography of the African diaspora in Mexico, especially for its focus on free African-descended women in midcolonial central Veracruz.”—Hispanic American Historical Review
Received honorable mention for the Howard F. Cline Book Prize in Mexican History, sponsored by the Latin American Studies Association
Winner of the 2022 Murdo MacLeod book prize, sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Southern Historical Society
Silver Medal for Best History Book from the International Latino Book Awards
“Engaging a variety of sources, this robust study offers an important glimpse of the world that free African-descended women made for themselves and their families.”—Michele Reid-Vazquez, University of Pittsburgh
“Beautifully written and extensively researched, The Capital of Free Women is a welcome addition to the growing field of Afro-Mexican studies and free people of color in the Ibero-American world.”—Michelle McKinley, author of Fractional Freedoms
“A breathtaking study that places free African-descended women at the nexus of questions about religion, commerce, and the law in colonial Mexico. In revealing their complex strategies and their indefatigable claims to socioreligious legitimacy, Danielle Terrazas Williams has produced a dazzling and important contribution to the history of women, family, race, and slavery in the Americas.”—Sophie White, author of Voices of the Enslaved
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