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Seeking Freedom in Multiple Contexts

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An Enslaved Sudanese Woman’s Life Trajectory, ca. 1800–1834

image of Journal of Global Slavery

Many individuals have re-evaluated their aspirations, sense of self, and possible futures as they have moved from one social and cultural context to another. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century slave narratives commonly depicted a simple arc from darkness and suffering to Christian salvation. The life trajectory of one Sudanese woman named Halima led from her original home in Dar Fur’s hinterland and across the Sahara to Cairo’s slave market. There, in 1817, the French doctor Charles Dussap purchased her, making her his slave-wife. Multiple primary documents reveal Halima’s sense of self and aspirations for freedom throughout her life trajectory. By combining her autoethnography of her original culture, a detailed description of her conversion, her husband’s account of their early relationship, the observations of CMS missionaries, the writings of Ismayl Urbain (her lover), and the Saint-Simonian archive, her iterative construction of self, multiple imagined futures, and interactions with Sudanese, Egyptians, and Europeans will be examined and evaluated in six contexts.

Affiliations: 1: Clarion University


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