Theses Doctoral

To The Mine I Will Not Go: Freedom and Emancipation on the Colombian Pacific, 1821-1852

Barragan, Yesenia

This dissertation tells the story of the abolition of chattel slavery in Colombia, currently the country with the third largest population of African descent in the Western Hemisphere (after the United States and Brazil). In Colombia, as in the vast majority of Latin American nations and the northern United States, the abolition of slavery occurred through a gradual emancipation law. Enacted in 1821 in the aftermath of the Wars of Independence against Spanish colonial rule, this law banned the international slave trade, established local civic councils to manumit “deserving” slaves, and included a Free Womb law that declared the children of slave mothers to be born free, yet bonded them to their mothers’ masters until the age of adulthood. My project unravels the struggles over freedom and bondage during this protracted process of gradual emancipation in the households, courtrooms, streets, and gold mines of the Pacific Coast of Colombia, the region with the highest concentration of slaves and the gold mining center of the former Spanish Empire. "To The Mine I Will Not Go" fundamentally rethinks the nineteenth century project of emancipation by arguing that the freedom generated through the gradual abolition of slavery constituted a modern form of rule that paradoxically birthed new forms of racial domination while consolidating de facto slavery.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Milanich, Nara
Piccato, Pablo A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 27, 2016