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Family, Stability, and Respectability: Seven Generations of Africans and Afro-descendants in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Minas Gerais

  • Douglas C. Libby (a1)

This article focuses on the history of an Afro-descendant family over its seven generations in one region of Minas Gerais. Although it is notoriously difficult to trace families founded by slaves, this one is an exception: it has proved possible to trace this family over a century and a half, and with a remarkable level of detail, because its members mostly stayed in one place. The implications of their permanence go beyond mere genealogy or family reconstitution to challenge long-standing historiographical perspectives. Over the years many scholars have agreed that Brazilian colonial and early imperial society was characterized by the near-constant movement of all segments of the population. New frontiers opened by agriculture, ranching, and mining attracted some members of the elite, but also beckoned the less favored with new opportunities. This incessant movement has even been touted as an impediment to the advancement of family history in Brazil.

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Stuart Schwartz , “Plantations and Peripheries, c. 1580-c. 1750,” in Colonial Brazil, Leslie Bethell , ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 67144

Zephyr L. Frank , Dutra's World: Wealth and Family in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004)

James P. Kiernan , “Baptism and Manumission in Brazil: Paraty, 1789–1822,” Social Science History 3:1 (Fall 1978): 5671

Douglas Cole Libby and Clotilde Andrade Paiva , “Manumission Practices in a Late Eighteenth-Century Brazilian Slave Parish: São José d'El Rey in 1795,” Slavery & Abolition 21:1 (April 2000): 96127

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The Americas
  • ISSN: 0003-1615
  • EISSN: 1533-6247
  • URL: /core/journals/americas
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