Mieko Nishida’s study of urban slavery in the Northeastern port city of Salvador, Bahia, explores changing identities among Afro-Brazilian populations from the arrival of the Portuguese court in 1808 to abolition in 1888. In making identity the theoretical core of her study, she takes an approach that is unique among scholars of slavery in the Americas. Her innovative periodization bypasses the familiar watershed of Brazilian independence in 1822 and instead concatenates the period from 1808 to 1831, at which point Brazil was to end transatlantic slave trade. The first part of the book concerns African-born slaves during the 1808–31 period, while the second and third parts deal with, respectively, African-born freedmen and Brazilian-born blacks from 1808 to 1888. The main thesis of the first part is that the African-born slave population, enriched by a continuous influx of new arrivals, created and expressed new...

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