The material that has gradually been incorporated into this book
began during the period of my dissertation research, from 1993 to
1996, and extended across time and space, catching wide-ranging empirical
and theoretical currents as I moved many times across the Atlantic. Some
of the chapters began as journal articles that refused to fit within the
confines of my doctoral dissertation, which was published in 2000 as De-
mocracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and
Jamaica. In 1988, a conference on ‘‘The Meaning of Freedom’’ was held at
the University of Pittsburgh, coinciding with the one hundred fiftieth
anniversary of emancipation in the British Caribbean and the one hun-
dredth anniversary of emancipation in Brazil. This led to the publication of
The Meaning of Freedom: Economics, Politics, and Culture after Slavery
(1992), edited by Frank McGlynn and Seymour Drescher. Contributors to
that volume such as O. Nigel Bolland focused on the activities of formerly
enslaved people and their descendants, particularly how they conceived
freedom and defined it for themselves. This included attention to ongoing
struggles over land, labor, political rights, and wider cultural issues. My
doctoral work was inspired by this turn toward a historiography of eman-
cipation that rejected the simple dichotomy between slavery and freedom,
began to note some of the continuities from the era of slavery into the
period of emancipation, and recognized emancipation as a long-term pro-
cess rather than as a single event.
Yet many aspects of my daily life, including gender relations, sexualities,
and embodied interactions, still seemed inaccessible to historians due to
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