CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

This article examines lawsuits brought by mothers of ingênuos (free children born to slave mothers after the Brazilian Law of the Free Womb of 1871) against their former masters in order to get their children back. It shows how living closely to their children played an essential role in the notion of freedom for slave and freed mothers, at a time when slavery was gradually being abolished in Brazil. Exploring these legal sources shows how this law, which aimed to gradually end the slave-holding system by freeing the children of enslaved women, was employed ambiguously, particularly in the city of São Paulo—on the one hand by slave and freed mothers asserting their rights, and on the other hand by their former masters. Supported by abolitionist lawyers, these women claimed their total freedom by applying for child custody, while the slaveholders fought back, maintaining, by the use of the same law, their control over the ingênuos, who would become their fellow Brazilians as the abolition of May 13, 1888, approached.

Clara Gouraud
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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