CSWS Research Matters Spring 2017: Liz Bohls examines colonial women, slavery, and the politics of place

2017, Spring: CSWS Research Matters

“A Long Way from Home: Colonial Women, Slavery, and the Politics of Place,” by Elizabeth Bohls, Professor, Department of English

Elizabeth Bohl’s recent book, Slavery and the Politics of Place, culminates with a section on the place called home. Her research for this section was funded in part by a CSWS faculty research grant. In this section, Bohls examined the unpublished journals of two white British women who spent time in the Caribbean slave colonies. For a contrasting perspective, she turned to a history that is the only surviving autobiography of an enslaved British woman.

The writings she examined by colonial women “shed light on the gendered and politicized construction of home in the context of British slavery.” Bohls posed the question: Can a slave really have a home? But she found that she first had to ask a more basic question: What is home?

From her article: “The three women I discuss had one thing in common: they traveled, and their travels empowered each of them in different ways. Schaw and Nugent carried ‘home’ with them to colonial soil. Mary Prince, in contrast, was torn from her family and thrust into white households where domestic labor signified the opposite of comfort or nurturance.”

For the full article, go to: 2017, Spring: CSWS Research Matters