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ConnexionsHistories of Race and Sex in North America$
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Jennifer Brier, Jim Downs, and Jennifer L. Morgan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040399

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040399.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 25 May 2020

With Only a Trace

With Only a Trace

Same-Sex Sexual Desire and Violence on Slave Plantations, 1607–1865

(p.15) Chapter 1 With Only a Trace

Jim Downs

University of Illinois Press

This chapter investigates the question of same-sex desire, intimacy, and violence among enslaved men in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and rethinks the definition and meaning of evidence. It illustrates how, despite the fact that enslaved men experienced the range of human emotion and connection that people have felt throughout history, their enslavement has been almost impossible to imagine, let alone document. Fortunately, bits and pieces of their experience have survived, offering an outline of their intimacies and desires. The chapter attempts to recover a part of their stories, emphasizing that such scant evidence should not be a deterrent but instead compel us to rethink how we write history and how we define evidence.

Keywords:   enslaved men, enslavement, same-sex intimacy, same-sex desire, slave plantations, violence

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