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Beyond the Slave NarrativePolitics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution$
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Deborah Jenson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781846314971

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846316517

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Dissing Rivals, Love for Sale: The Courtesans' Rap and the Not-So Tragic Mulatta

Dissing Rivals, Love for Sale: The Courtesans' Rap and the Not-So Tragic Mulatta

(p.277) 8 Dissing Rivals, Love for Sale: The Courtesans' Rap and the Not-So Tragic Mulatta
Beyond the Slave Narrative
Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the gender politics of woman as commodity in relation to slave-holding societies, focusing on unpublished poems from courtesan culture associated with the female figure of the cocotte. It discusses how libertinage helped establish a popular Creole (Kreyòl) literary tradition in the framework of black and mulatta women's often overlapping roles as concubines for white men and as entertainers for white women. Libertine relations both veiled and unveiled triangulated bonds across class and race lines, and the texts were mediated by transcribers and collectors that implied a complex re-evaluation of the mulâtresse's incarnation of empire. The Creole poetry considered in the chapter inscribes the process of unbecoming slaves, of discovering a public space of choice and power negotiations around the politics of shared bodies and affect. The chapter also analyses the poor female indigo worker, the indigoterice, which stands in contrast with the courtesans and procurers in their cushy jobs.

Keywords:   Creole poetry, gender politics, slave-holding societies, slaves, courtesans, cocotte, libertinage, mulatta, mulâtresse, indigoterice

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