Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Domna C. Stanton

Subject Categories

Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies


Caribbean; Early Modern; France; Gender


In close readings of narrative and archival texts, Engendering Islands analyzes notions of human difference at the moment when slavery was first introduced in the French-controlled Antilles. In the seventeenth-century Caribbean, missionaries, officials, adventurers, and travelers expanded and resignified metropolitan tropes of gender to suit the colonial environment. Part I explores the gendered stakes of colonial marriage by examining the writings of women religious, representations of women of ill repute, and responses to interracial sexual relations. Through an analysis of missionaries' narratives, Part II studies depictions of the marriages and family formations of non-French/non-Christian 'others,' especially Amerindians and Africans. Part III examines constructions of masculinity by relating seventeenth-century metropolitan conceptions of military valor to representations of armed men -- Island Caribs, privateers, enslaved men, and maroons -- in the Caribbean. The brutality of colonialism and enslavement was mapped onto men's and women's bodies, bolstered by resignified tropes of gender and emerging notions of racial difference. Gender played a central role in defining colonial others, male and female, and contributed to conceptions of difference that upheld slavery and colonial domination, thus setting the stage for centuries of French imperialism.

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