Recent scholarship on slavery has explored the lives of enslaved
people beyond the watchful eye of their masters. Building on this
work and the study of space, social relations, gender, and power in
the Old South, Stephanie Camp examines the everyday containment and
movement of enslaved men and, especially, enslaved women. In her
investigation of the movement of bodies, objects, and information,
Camp extends our recognition of slave resistance into new arenas
and reveals an important and hidden culture of opposition.
Camp discusses the multiple dimensions to acts of resistance that
might otherwise appear to be little more than fits of temper. She
brings new depth to our understanding of the lives of enslaved
women, whose bodies and homes were inevitably political arenas.
Through Camp's insight, truancy becomes an act of pursuing personal
privacy. Illegal parties ("frolics") become an expression of bodily
freedom. And bondwomen who acquired printed abolitionist materials
and posted them on the walls of their slave cabins (even if they
could not read them) become the subtle agitators who inspire more
The culture of opposition created by enslaved women's acts of
everyday resistance helped foment and sustain the more visible
resistance of men in their individual acts of running away and in
the collective action of slave revolts. Ultimately, Camp argues,
the Civil War years saw revolutionary change that had been in the
making for decades.