CSREA’s New Book Talks highlight new and notable works studying race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. They facilitate thought-provoking and critical engagement with emerging scholarship.
Consent in the Presence of Force: Sexual Violence and Black Women’s Survival in Antebellum New Orleans
Emily A. Owens, David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History
In histories of enslavement and in Black women’s history, coercion looms large in any discussion of sex and sexuality. At a time when sexual violence against Black women was virtually unregulated—even normalized—a vast economy developed specifically to sell the sexual labor of Black women. In this vividly rendered book, Emily A. Owens wrestles with the question of why white men paid notoriously high prices to gain sexual access to the bodies of enslaved women to whom they already had legal and social access.
About the Author
Emily Owens is the David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History at Brown University, where she does research on and teaches about US slavery, the legal history of race and sexual violence, and the intellectual history of American feminisms. Her work broadly considers the ways that racism and misogyny get expressed in ordinary–and intimate–life. Her book, Consent in the Presence of Force: Sexual Violence and Black Women’s Survival in Antebellum New Orleans (University of North Carolina Press, 2023) tells stories of enslaved women who were conscripted into brothels, concubinage, or the so-called “fancy trade,” to map the architecture of sexual violence in US slavery. Her writing can also be found in Signs: Journal of Women, Culture and Society, differences, The Black Scholar, Literary Hub and Louisiana History.
Moderated by Juliet Hooker, Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence in Political Science