Catalogue


Strategies for survival : recollections of bondage in Antebellum Virginia /
William Dusinberre.
imprint
Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2009.
description
x, 251 p.
ISBN
0813928222 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780813928227 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2009.
isbn
0813928222 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780813928227 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6915900
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-09-01:
Distinguished British historian of African American slavery Dusinberre (emer., Univ. of Warwick, UK) revisits more than 100 WPA Virginia Writers' Project oral history interviews and other records of former Virginia slaves' memories of bondage. He assesses their applicability to understanding slavery throughout the antebellum South, their merits, and the significance that blacks conducted over 90 percent of the interviews. First published in 1976, the Virginia interviews remain a staple among published primary sources. Dusinberre explains their method and then charts the interviews' value as documentation for 14 aspects of slave life, from the treatment accorded bondsmen by "Good Mistresses and Masters" to "Oppression and Self-Determination." He argues that unlike interviews conducted by whites, those administered by blacks elicited considerably more candor. Despite his celebration of the Virginia interviews as sources, Dusinberre identifies weaknesses. The brevity of the narratives, the youth of the interviewees when they were slaves, and their unreliability distort some accounts. Distinguishing "tradition" from first- and secondhand accounts and folklore and the projection of convictions backward from the 1930s to the 1850s also taint the interviews as sources. While Dusinberre probably overstates the typicality and reliability of the Virginia slave interviews, he correctly underscores slavery's brutality and the bondsmen's determination to survive. Summing Up: Recommended. For all levels/libraries. J. D. Smith University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Reviews
Review Quotes
"With Strategies for SurvivalWilliam Dusinberre solidifies his reputation as one of our finest historians ofsouthern slavery. His unusually sensitive reading of interviews with Virginia'sex-slaves returns us to basic questions, but offers startling fresh answers. Likehis classic study of slavery on the rice plantations, Strategiesfor Survival will quickly become a must-read for all students ofantebellum American history." -- James Oakes, author of Slavery andFreedom: An Interpretation of the Old South
With Strategies for Survival William Dusinberre solidifies his reputation as one of our finest historians of southern slavery. His unusually sensitive reading of interviews with Virginia's ex-slaves returns us to basic questions, but offers startling fresh answers. Like his classic study of slavery on the rice plantations, Strategies for Survival will quickly become a must-read for all students of antebellum American history.
This remarkable study of antebellum Virginia slavery displays all the qualities we have come to expect from William Dusinberre--impeccable research, creative questioning, elegant writing, and persuasive interpretations. This is a major contribution from a major historian.
"This remarkable study of antebellum Virginia slavery displaysall the qualities we have come to expect from William Dusinberre--impeccableresearch, creative questioning, elegant writing, and persuasive interpretations.This is a major contribution from a major historian." -- Charles Joyner, author ofDown By the Riverside: A South Carolina SlaveCommunity
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Strategies for Survival conveys the experience of bondage through the words of former slaves themselves. The interviews -- conducted in Virginia in 1937 by WPA interviewers -- are considered among the most valuable of the WPA interviews because in Virginia the interviewers were almost all African Americans; thus the interviewees almost certainly spoke more frankly than they would otherwise have done. Dusinberre uses the interviews to assess the strategies by which slaves sought to survive, despite the severe constrictions bondage imposed upon their lives. Religion and escape were common means of coping with the indignity of family disruption, contempt, and the harsh realities of slavery. However, while Dusinberre recognizes the creativity and variety of slaves' responses to oppression, he acknowledges the dispiriting realities of the limits of slave resistance and agency.
Main Description
Strategies for Survival conveys the experience of bondage through the words of former slaves themselves. The interviews--conducted in Virginia in 1937 by WPA interviewers--are considered among the most valuable of the WPA interviews because in Virginia the interviewers were almost all African Americans; thus the interviewees almost certainly spoke more frankly than they would otherwise have done. Dusinberre uses the interviews to assess the strategies by which slaves sought to survive, despite the severe constrictions bondage imposed upon their lives. Religion and escape were common means of coping with the indignity of family disruption, contempt, and the harsh realities of slavery. However, while Dusinberre recognizes the creativity and variety of slaves' responses to oppression, he acknowledges the dispiriting realities of the limits of slave resistance and agency.
Main Description
Strategies for Survivalconveys the experience of bondage through the words of former slaves themselves. Theinterviews -- conducted in Virginia in 1937 by WPA interviewers -- are consideredamong the most valuable of the WPA interviews because in Virginia the interviewerswere almost all African Americans; thus the interviewees almost certainly spoke morefrankly than they would otherwise have done. Dusinberre uses the interviews toassess the strategies by which slaves sought to survive, despite the severeconstrictions bondage imposed upon their lives. Religion and escape were commonmeans of coping with the indignity of family disruption, contempt, and the harshrealities of slavery. However, while Dusinberre recognizes the creativity andvariety of slaves' responses to oppression, he acknowledges the dispiritingrealities of the limits of slave resistance and agency.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Alleviations
Good Mistresses and Mastersp. 15
Mixed-Race Ancestry and Long-Term Relationshipsp. 28
Cities and Industryp. 50
Offenses
Family Disruptionp. 73
Physical Abusep. 85
Regimentationp. 95
Contemptp. 104
Deprivationp. 110
Responses
Religionp. 121
Dissidencep. 141
Familiesp. 168
The Black Communityp. 180
Self-Developmentp. 187
Retrospect
Oppression and Self-Determinationp. 207
Appendixp. 211
Notesp. 213
Indexp. 243
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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