This article contributes to the histories of slavery and of

African-descended families in the Americas by examining the recognition of

nineteenth-century Afro-Cuban hijos naturales (or children born

outside of wedlock) as a means of family formation in late colonial Cuba.

With legal "recognition," men from a variety of races and classes

claimed responsibility for these children. In doing so, they created a

creole family form that developed to suit a very local context and that

did not conform to Anglo-American standards of legitimacy or illegitimacy.

This article first outlines general Afro-Cuban reproductive patterns and

then reveals the social experiences of the families that include hijos naturales. Such families were valuable social agents that sought

the advancement of their members and that often provided a framework

through which individuals endured slavery and advanced into freedom.


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pp. 55-80
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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