Ashley M. WilliardMay 30, 2022
Sexuality, Reproduction, and Violence in the Early French Caribbean
University of Nebraska Press 2021
In Engendering Islands: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Violence in the Early French Caribbean (University of Nebraska Press, 2021), Dr. Ashley M. Williard demonstrates how problematics of gender played a central role in defining colonial others, male and female, at the moment when slavery was first introduced in the French-controlled Antilles. The book argues that seventeenth-century French Caribbean reconstructions of masculinity and femininity helped sustain and justify occupation, slavery, and nascent ideas of race. In the face of historical silences, Williard’s close readings of archival and narrative texts reveals the words, images, and perspectives that reflected and produced new ideas of human difference in this colonial context. Juridical, religious, and medical discourses expose the interdependence of multiple conditions—male and female, enslaved and free, Black and white, Indigenous and displaced, normative and disabled—in the islands claimed for the French Crown.
R. Grant Kleiser is a Ph.D. candidate in the Columbia University History Department. His dissertation researches the development of the free-port system in the eighteenth-century Caribbean, investigating the rationale for such moves towards “free trade” and the impact these policies had on subsequent philosophers, policy-makers, and revolutionaries in the Atlantic world.