Book Review: Black Women Slaves Who Nourished A Nation

The following is from a book review of Black Women Slaves Who Nourished A Nation: Artistic Renderings of Wet Nurses in Brazil by Kimberly Cleveland in the journal Hispanic American Historical Review:

A timely contribution…certainly be of great interest to historians and other scholars studying slavery, abolition, postabolition, and African diaspora…a well-written, carefully edited book that delves into crucial matters and can attract a broad reading public interested in understanding both the historical processes that forged a complex visuality of race and gender in postslavery Brazil and the violent, unequal society that this visuality helped to create.

Noted experts have also praised the book. Professor Heather Shirey (University of St. Thomas) remarks:

Kimberly Cleveland examines a wide range of imagery—including paintings, photographs, and sculptures from the colonial period up to contemporary art—and situates these works in a detailed historical context, informed by primary sources that are not easily accessible to a non-Portuguese-speaking audience. These include medical theses, writings by abolitionists, literature (poetry and novels), and newspaper advertisements, to name just a few. Although the imagery examined in this text was largely produced by and for a male audience, the use of so many primary sources allows us to understand the perspectives of women. This study provides a detailed examination of the images combined with the interesting biographies of various artists as well as a rich analysis of historical and cultural contexts. Beautifully written, Black Women Slaves Who Nourished A Nation is compelling, clear, and easy to read. This book would be especially valuable to art historians and historians whose work focuses on Brazil. It would also be interesting and accessible to graduate and undergraduate students in history and art history

This book includes color images and is in the Cambria Studies in Slavery book series (General Editor: Ana Lucia Araujo, Howard University).

About the author: Kimberly Cleveland is an associate professor of art history at Georgia State University. She holds a PhD from the University of Iowa, and a MA from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Cleveland is the author of Black Art in Brazil: Expressions of Identity, and she has published essays in edited volumes and exhibition catalogs, and articles in several journals such as the Journal of Black StudiesLuso-Brazilian ReviewCritical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture and Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas.

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