Article

Marriage and Family

Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0038
Marriage and Family

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  • History of the Americas
  • European History
  • African History
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  • Regional and National History

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People of the Atlantic world experienced political upheaval, migration, religious and intellectual transformations, and commercial development not only as individuals, but also as members of families. Families were products of the particular personalities of their members, of course, but family structures were also themselves the result of Atlantic transformations, whether voluntary or involuntary. Recent scholarship has been particularly interested in the ways that familial relationships and structures became tools of imperial control over colonial populations. Laws defining “legitimate” relationships and forbidding others helped construct and reinforce racial and class hierarchies locally and across the Atlantic. These studies have shown that what had formerly been understood as part of the “private” realm of personal existence—childrearing practices, for example, or the idea of conjugal love—were in fact profoundly political. The comparative focus that an Atlantic perspective demands helps those interested in family life to untangle questions about the various “functions”—economic, political, emotional—of highly diverse families over time.

Article.  7876 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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