Date

4-28-2020

Description

In the colony of Saint-Domingue, before the Haitian Revolution, there existed a population of free people of color who found themselves in limbo between the black enslaved population and the white wealthy class. Born from mixed parents who tended to be white fathers and black enslaved mothers, they emerged as a new social group in the colony of Saint-Domingue during the late 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1780s and 1790s, free men and women of color became subjects of interest to white wealthy men such as Moreau de Saint-Méry and Michel Etienne Descourtilz, whose writings focus on the physical attributes of both sexes and their cultural habits. At the same time, there were free men of color such as Julien Raimond, who wrote on their experiences and tried to justify and establish their position as free men of color. This thesis aims to answer the following questions: How different were the views of white wealthy men and free men of color toward free women of color, in what ways were they similar, and why did they consider the depiction of free women of color important for their respective political agendas? Both groups of men viewed women of color as objects of desire, however, their grounds for this viewpoint differed, and likewise the goals that these two groups of men had in depicting such women in their writings. To support my thesis, two paintings from Italian painter Agostino Brunias are included that depict free women of color in social settings.

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Apr 28th, 12:00 AM

Free Women of Color in Late Eighteenth-Century Saint-Domingue: How They Were Objectified by White Men and Free Men of Color

In the colony of Saint-Domingue, before the Haitian Revolution, there existed a population of free people of color who found themselves in limbo between the black enslaved population and the white wealthy class. Born from mixed parents who tended to be white fathers and black enslaved mothers, they emerged as a new social group in the colony of Saint-Domingue during the late 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1780s and 1790s, free men and women of color became subjects of interest to white wealthy men such as Moreau de Saint-Méry and Michel Etienne Descourtilz, whose writings focus on the physical attributes of both sexes and their cultural habits. At the same time, there were free men of color such as Julien Raimond, who wrote on their experiences and tried to justify and establish their position as free men of color. This thesis aims to answer the following questions: How different were the views of white wealthy men and free men of color toward free women of color, in what ways were they similar, and why did they consider the depiction of free women of color important for their respective political agendas? Both groups of men viewed women of color as objects of desire, however, their grounds for this viewpoint differed, and likewise the goals that these two groups of men had in depicting such women in their writings. To support my thesis, two paintings from Italian painter Agostino Brunias are included that depict free women of color in social settings.