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Open Access The family tree is not cut: marriage among slaves in eighteenth-century Puerto Rico

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The family tree is not cut: marriage among slaves in eighteenth-century Puerto Rico

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Examines the frequency of slave marriage in 18th-c. Puerto Rico, through family reconstitution based on parish baptismal, marriage, and death registers. Author first sketches the development of slavery, and the work regimens and conditions of the not yet sugar-dominated slavery in Puerto Rico. Then, he describes the religious context and social implications of marriage among slaves, and discusses, through an example, spousal selection patterns, and further focuses on age and seasonality of the slave marriages. He explains that marriage brought some legal advantages for slaves, such as the prohibited separation, by sale, of married slaves. In addition, he explores how slaves pursued marital strategies in order to manipulate material conditions. He concludes from the results that in the 18th c. marriage among slaves was not uncommon, and appear to have been determined mostly by the slaves own choice, with little direct intervention by masters. Most slaves married other slaves, with the same owner.

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