Seeing Women in "Male" Spaces: Consumer Choice in Fugitive Slave Villages in 19th-Century Kenya
Author(s): Lydia Wilson Marshall
In the Americas, fugitive slave settlements have often been interpreted as predominantly male spaces. In Kenya, oral and written histories suggest that runaway slave villages were similarly male-heavy. These histories make clear, however, that formerly enslaved women were also present. This paper uses archaeological data and a consumer choice model to tease out female voices. Runaways continued to suffer disenfranchisement in freedom. Yet, archaeological data suggest they were also discriminating consumers of imported goods. This paper’s analysis focuses on beads. Beads abounded at some excavated houses and were absent at others. The bead types represented also varied between houses. This paper asks, can beads be classified as a "female" object in 19th-century coastal Kenya? If so, what does women’s bead consumption reveal about the composition of runaway slave households and the performance of gendered identities? These questions are explored through a holistic approach, engaging economic and symbolic aspects of consumption.
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Seeing Women in "Male" Spaces: Consumer Choice in Fugitive Slave Villages in 19th-Century Kenya. Lydia Wilson Marshall. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428367)
min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;