Renegotiating the subaltern : Female voices in Peixoto’s «Obra Nova de Língua Geral de Mina» (Brazil, 1731/1741)

Faculty/Professorship: Romance Literary Studies: Hispanic Literatures  
Author(s): Rodrigues-Moura, Enrique  ; Märzhauser, Christina
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2022
Pages: 1
Language(s): English
Geschlechtersensible Forschung an der Universität Bamberg. Posterausstellung vom 05.12.2022 bis 31.01.2023 im Rahmen des Projektes GENIAL forschen - GEschlechterpoteNzIALe nutzen - Gesellschaft verändern
DOI: 10.20378/irb-57507
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-575072
Out of ~11.000.000 enslaved Africans disembarked in the Americas, ~ 46% were taken to Brazil, where transatlantic slave trade only ended in 1850 (official abolition of slavery in 1888). In the Brazilian inland «capitania» Minas Gerais, slave numbers exploded due to gold mining in the first half of 18th century from 30.000 to nearly 300.000 black inhabitants out of a total ~350.000 in 1786. Due to gender demographics, intimate relations between African women and European men were frequent during Antonio da Costa Peixoto’s lifetime. In 1731/1741, this country clerk in Minas Gerais’ colonial administration, originally from Northern Portugal, completed his 42-page manuscript «Obra Nova de Língua Geral de Mina» («New work on the general language of Mina») documenting a variety of Gbe (sub-group of Kwa), one of the many African languages thought to have quickly disappeared in oversea slaveholder colonies.

Some of Peixoto’s dialogues show African women who – despite being black and female and therefore usually associated with double subaltern status (see Spivak 1994 «The subaltern cannot speak») – successfully renegotiate their power position in trade. Although Peixoto’s efforts to acquire, describe and promote the «Língua Geral de Mina» can be interpreted as a «white» colonist’s strategy to secure his position through successful control, his dialogues also stress the importance of winning trust and cultivating good relations with members of the local black community. Several dialogues testify a degree of agency by Africans that undermines conventional representations of colonial relations, including a woman who enforces her «no credit» policy for her services, as shown above. Historical research on African and Afro-descendant women in Minas Gerais documents that some did not only manage to free themselves from slavery but even acquired considerable wealth.
GND Keywords: Minas Gerais; Mundart; Geschlechterverhältnis; Geschichte 1741
Keywords: Black Atlantic, Antonio da Costa Peixoto
DDC Classification: 460 Spanish & Portuguese languages  
RVK Classification: IR 2764   
Type: Other (Publication)
Release Date: 23. January 2023

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