Del grillete físico al moral: identidades divididas en la literatura antiesclavista cubana del siglo XIX

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Carmen Obregón Salama (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Ana Hontanilla

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to explore how the oscillation between violence and benevolence by the patriarchal master marks the dual status of the slave as the subject-object. This duplicity exists not only in the identity of the slave but also in the identity of Cuban society in the Cuban abolitionist narrative of the nineteenth century. My research focuses on the following abolitionist works: La Autobiografia de un esclavo (1835) by Juan Francisco Manzano, Sab (1841) by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, and Francisco: El ingenio o las delicias del campo (1840) by Anselmo y Suárez Romero. Following the postcolonial approach of academics such as Claudette Williams and Lorna Williams, first I analyze the limits of property rights over the slave imposed by the Catholic Church and the law in connection with the fluctuations between violent acts and benevolent acts done by the master. In this sense the sugar field emerges as an empty space in which this raw power is applied without limits. Then I study the impact of these constant violations of law in the figure of the protagonist. My research shows that, although the owner is the executor of acts of cruelty, both the Church and the law protected/sanctioned this punitive prerogative of the master. While it is true that both institutions controlled the violence by regulating the relationship master/slave, neither of them questioned or intervened effectively. Moreover, I suggest that the demonstrations of benevolence were a pretense that covered another perverse reality; the sugar plantation is a space empty of morality where there is no law, no church, no mercy. It also shows how the oscillation between benevolent and violent mark the identity of the slave. The good treatment obscured but did not erase the condition of the slave as an object. The slave acting in this capacity as a thing was obliged not only to serve but to suffer the capricious wrath of the master’s changing mood. My research provides new approaches to help understand the tensions that contribute to building the divided identity of the slave as well as the Cuban society in mid-century Cuban antislavery Literature.

Additional Information

Language: Spanish; Castilian
Date: 2016
Church, Cuban abolitionist narrative, Law, Violence and benevolence
Cuban literature $y 19th century $x History and criticism
Slavery in literature
Sugar growing in literature
Gomez de Avellaneda, Gertrudis, $d 1814-1873. $t Sab
Manzano, Juan Francisco, $d 1797-1854. $t Autobiografia
Suarez y Romero, Anselmo, $d 1818-1878. $t Francisco

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