An Edible Resistance: Connections Between Bondswomen, Food and Power
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Female slaves were meant to create food for the profit of the white elite in the American South. They tilled crops under the master’s vile eye and virulent whip, and prepared meals in the white family’s kitchen from sunrise to dark. Food was, evidently, a source of oppression. However, I argue in this paper, that force was also, paradoxically, a source of resistance, resilience and creativity. It was a form of empowerment. I explore how a source of enslavement was turned into a source of liberation. I analyzed oral history transcripts from the Federal Writer’s Project from 1936 to1938 to find out how food was talked about by former slave women, or, bondswomen. Through the prism of culture history, this paper looks at how food was used in slave kitchens, what was its cultural meaning and how did food contribute to slave identity.