The Free Afro-Brazilians in a Slave Society


in Racism and Ethnic Relations in the Portuguese-Speaking World

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265246
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754197 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Free Afro-Brazilians in a Slave Society

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This chapter evaluates the free coloured class under slavery in imperial Brazil. Being the largest such group in the Americas, the free coloureds by the middle of the nineteenth century were also by far the single largest ethnic/status group in Brazilian society. The chapter examines how and why this class emerged and how it evolved through the complex processes of manumission, stressing the increasing pace of these manumissions in the nineteenth century as well as the biases in age and sex of the newly emancipated slaves. The social, economic and even political role of these free coloureds within the slave society is analysed along with their relationship to whites and the slave population. The chapter then stresses how the existence of this free class before abolition affected the integration of all Afro-Brazilians after the abolition of slavery.

Keywords: imperial Brazil; slavery; free coloured class; manumission; abolition

Chapter.  15363 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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