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Executing race

Ondertitelearly American women's narratives of race, society, and the law
MakerHarris, Sharon M.
Uitgave plaatsColumbus
UitgeverOhio University Press
Uitgave jaar2005
VindplaatsVS 1C 2005
SamenvattingExecuting Race examines the multiple ways in which race, class, and the law impacted women’s lives in the 18th century and, equally important, the ways in which women sought to change legal and cultural attitudes in this volatile period. Through an examination of infanticide cases, Harris reveals how conceptualizations of women, especially their bodies and their legal rights, evolved over the course of the 18th century. Early in the century, infanticide cases incorporated the rhetoric of the witch trials. However, at mid-century, a few women, especially African American women, began to challenge definitions of “bastardy” (a legal requirement for infanticide), and by the end of the century, women were rarely executed for this crime as the new nation reconsidered illegitimacy in relation to its own struggle to establish political legitimacy. Against this background of legal domination of women’s lives, Harris exposes the ways in which women writers and activists negotiated legal territory to invoke their voices into the radically changing legal discourse.

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