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Ploughshares Into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810by James Sidbury
Synopses & Reviews
James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords places the enslaved population of Virginia squarely within the emerging Atlantic world culture--of the market economy, of urban culture, of Virginia's rapidly changing religious culture. Sidbury stresses the way black Virginians appropriated white cultural forms, transformed their meaning, and in the process created symbols of black liberation and a culture that had autonomous features even though it drew from the larger culture. His skillfull interweaving of these two separate strands of argument provides rare insights into the entire process of identity formation and creolization.
During the summer of 1800, slaves in and around Richmond conspired to overthrow slavery. This book uses Gabriel's Conspiracy, and the evidence produced during its repression, to expose the processes through which Virginians of African descent built an oppositional culture. Sidbury portrays this culture, and the multiple, sometimes conflicting, senses of identity that emerged among the people of the rapidly-growing state capitol. The book offers an alternative interpretation of the Virginia that was home to many of the Founding Fathers.
Sidbury focuses on the history and perspectives of enslaved blacks to develop 'Gabriel's Virginia' as a counterpoint to 'Jeffersonian Virginia.'
Table of Contents
Introduction; Acknowledgments; Prologue: from blacks in Virginia to black Virginians; 1. The emergence of racial consciousness in eighteenth-century Virginia; Part I. Cultural Progress: Creolization, Appropriation, and Collective Identity in Gabriel's Virginia: 2. Forging an oppositional culture: Gabriel's conspiracy and the process of cultural appropriation; 3. Individualism, community, and identity in Gabriel's conspiracy; 4. Making sense of Gabriel's conspiracy: immediate responses to the conspiracy; Part II. Social Practice: Urbanization, Commercialization, and Identity in the Daily Life of Gabriel's Richmond: 5. The growth of early Richmond; 6. Labor, race, and identity in early Richmond; 7. Race and constructions of gender in early Richmond; Epilogue: Gabriel and Richmond in historical and fictional time; 8. Gabriel's Conspiracy in memory and fiction; Appendix; Notes.
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