Abstract

This article explores how, in 1784 New Orleans, Cecilia Conway—a recaptured maroon woman—asserted that she was pregnant and thereby leveraged the power of her reproductive labor. Her claims about her body briefly slowed down the system of capital punishment activated in response to her marronage by altering the trajectory of the state-sanctioned sexual violence inflicted on her. The conversations between Cecilia and the prison’s authorities that this article unearths constitute an original archive of Cecilia’s assertions while accounting for their heavily mediated and yet remarkable presence. By centering the details of Cecilia’s life, this article helps recast the threat of marronage in colonial Louisiana from simply one of male-led armed rebellion to one of reproduction, thorny kinship networks, and a potential maroon society.

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