Ayana Flewellen

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9781

Approve Date

April 27, 2019

Project Title

Flewellen, Ayana (California, Berkeley, U. of) "The Clothes on Their Backs: Sartorial Practices of Self-making at the Estate Little Princess"

In the midst of racialized servitude, sexual exploitation, and economic disenfranchisement, that marked the enslavement and post-emancipation eras in the Danish West Indies (1754-1917), Afro-Crucians were styling their hair with combs, lacing glass beads around their necks, dyeing coarse-cotton fabric with indigo-berry and vine sorrel, and fastening buttons to adorn their bodies and dress their social lives. My research explores how race, gender, and status/class shaped Afro-Crucian identity formation from slavery through freedom. I investigate the complex interplay between structural forms of oppression and agency by focusing on the ways enslaved, and later free Afro-Crucians utilized dress to negotiate racism, sexual exploitation, and exploitive capitalism. Analyzing material culture and documentary data through an intersectional Black feminist theoretical framework, I posit that quotidian dress practices – how people dressed their bodies in their everyday lives – constitute the body and form identities through their repetitive daily nature.