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The Conceptualization of Race in Colonial Puerto Rico, 1800–1850


Kathryn R. Dungy

With the growing interest in the history of peoples of African descent in the Americas, narratives addressing regions outside of the United States are becoming increasingly popular. The Conceptualization of Race in Colonial Puerto Rico, 1800–1850 illuminates the role people of African descent played in the building of a Spanish Caribbean society during the social upheaval of the early nineteenth century. This examination of cultural tensions created by changing regional and national definitions and the fluidity of identity within these structures will appeal to those interested in colonial race issues, Africans in the Americas, and gender and race stratification. Kathryn R. Dungy uses gender, color, and class differences as lenses to understand a colonial society that was regulated by social relationships within Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the Americas. By examining slave and free status, color, gender, work, and immigration, she endeavors to stimulate current debate on issues of gender, color, nation, and empire, utilizing a unique population and culture in the Black Atlantic.


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Table of Contents


Preface: Fusing the Races vii Acknowledgments xiii Map of the Atlantic World xvii Chapter One “People of Different Shades”: An Examination of the Nineteenth-Century Population of Puerto Rico 1 Chapter Two A Changing World: The Atlantic World through the Eyes of Free People of Color 13 Chapter Three Living in Color: Native and Immigrant Free People of Color in Their Communities 35 Chapter Four Til Death Do Us Part: Engagement, Elopement, Marriage, and Widowhood 67 vi the conceptualization of race in colonial puerto rico Chapter Five A Fusion of the Races: Free People of Color and the Growth of Puerto Rican Society 85 Appendix Maps Caribbean Region 97 Puerto Rico 98 Tables Populations of Free People of Color, Whites, and Slaves In the Caribbean at the End of the Eighteenth Century 99 Racial Proportions in Puerto Rico, 1779 to 1830 100 Free People of Color as a Percentage of the Total Population of the Country 101 Glossary 103 Further Reading 107 Bibliography 117 Index 127

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