Female Captive Mobilities and the 'Countervoyage' in the Luso-Atlantic World

Patel Nascimento, Selina (2023) Female Captive Mobilities and the 'Countervoyage' in the Luso-Atlantic World. Slavery and Abolition, 44 (3). pp. 538-558. ISSN 0144-039X

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This essay reveals the counter-history of the ‘countervoyage’ in the Luso-Atlantic world. Scholarly attention has recently concentrated on the Middle Passage, the westward West African-New World voyage of enslavement for millions of Africans. However, this article exposes constant captive maritime mobilities sailing east towards Europe from the Americas, conceptualized as the countervoyage, and explores how archival silences have obscured the multiplicity of captive geographic mobilities that resisted pre-defined routes for Black bodies. It examines how Black female place-making redefined the technology of Portuguese ocean-going vessels through corporeal positioning and use of Luso-Atlantic maritime space. Employing import tax collections, Inquisitorial processes and petitions for legal marriage to locate Afro-Brazilian women living in Portugal, this article argues that the countervoyage was particularly transformative in the lives of enslaved women in the Luso-Atlantic world, enabling them to chart alternate cartographies of transimperial diasporic activity. It concludes by considering how we might begin theorizing the counter-history of countervoyages to form a future conceptual and analytical tool (the ‘counter-voyage’) that effectively utilizes South Atlantic epistemologies for broader application.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Slavery and Abolition
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13 Jul 2023 11:20
Last Modified:
12 Jul 2024 01:30