Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina
Over the course of the eighteenth century, race came to seem as corporeal as sex. Kirsten Fischer has mined unpublished court records and travel literature from colonial North Carolina to reveal how early notions of racial difference were shaped by illicit sexual relationships and the sanctions imposed on those who conducted them. Fischer shows how the personal—and yet often very public—sexual lives of Native American, African American, and European American women and men contributed to the new racial order in this developing slave society. Liaisons between European men and native women, among white and black servants, and between servants and masters, as well as sexual slander among whites and acts of sexualized violence against slaves, were debated, denied, and recorded in the courtrooms of colonial North Carolina. Indentured servants, slaves, Cherokee and Catawba women, and other members of less privileged groups sometimes resisted colonial norms, making sexual choices that irritated neighbors, juries, and magistrates and resulted in legal penalties and other acts of retribution. The sexual practices of ordinary people vividly bring to light the little-known but significant ways in which notions of racial difference were alternately contested and affirmed before the American Revolution.Fischer makes an innovative contribution to the history of race, class, and gender in early America by uncovering a detailed record of illicit sexual exchanges in colonial North Carolina and showing how acts of resistance to sexual rules complicated ideas about inherent racial difference.
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accused Adair African Americans Albemarle behavior Bertie County bodies Cambridge century chap Chapel Hill Cherokee Cherokee Women child Chowan County Civil Action Papers Colonial North Carolina colonists color County Civil Action County Court Minutes Court Records Criminal Action Papers CRNC cultural Early America Early Modern Edenton eighteenth eighteenth-century Elizabeth England English enslaved European example female fornication free black Friends gender household husband Hyde County ibid illicit sex indentured Indian women insults interracial sex John Judith labor land Lawson liaisons Luton magistrates male marriage married master mothers Nasty Wenches Native American NCHCR NCSA Negro North Carolina North Carolina Press Pasquotank County Perquimans Perquimans County Priber punishment Quakers race racial difference rape Sarah sexual relations Slavery slaves social Society sodomy South status Thomas tion trade Tuscarora War University of North University Press violence Virginia whipping white women wife William Bartram William Byrd Wives woman York