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The Mark of SlaveryDisability, Race, and Gender in Antebellum America$
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Jenifer L. Barclay

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043727

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043727.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Mark of Slavery

Jenifer L. Barclay

University of Illinois Press

This chapter introduces the ways that The Mark of Slavery moves between experiences of disability in everyday enslaved life and the discursive relationship between racism and ableism forged in antebellum medicine, law, politics, and popular culture. The “new” disability history and, in particular, this field’s use of a social (as opposed to a medical) model of disability is central to the project of writing a disability history of slavery. Disability’s power to stigmatize derived from its relationship to abnormality and its ability to rationalize inequality hinged on one’s real or imagined proximity to it. As disability intertwined with the broader metalanguage of race in the antebellum years, it minimized or amplified specific qualities imagined as innate to whiteness or blackness, racializing and delimiting “normal” bodies.

Keywords:   Ableism, Abnormality, antebellum America, metalanguage of race, new disability history, racism, stigmatization, social model of disability

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