Abstract

Once the British transatlantic slave trade came under abolitionists' scrutiny in 1788, West Indian slaveholders had to consider alternative methods of obtaining well-needed laborers. This article examines changes in enslaved women's working lives as planters sought to increase birth rates to replenish declining laboring populations. By focusing more on variances in work assignment and degrees of punishment rather than their absence, this article establishes that enslaved women in Jamaica experienced a considerable shift in their work responsibilities and their subjection to discipline as slaveholders sought to capitalize on their abilities to reproduce. Enslaved women's reproductive capabilities were pivotal for slavery and the plantation economy's survival once legal supplies from Africa were discontinued.

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