This book tells the extraordinary story of a village of peasants and miners in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Cuba who were slaves belonging to the king of Spain and whose local patroness was a miraculous image of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre. In reconstructing this history, the book reveals that in Cuba's eastern region, slavery to the King became a very ambiguous form of slavery that evolved into forms of freedom unprecedented in other colonial societies of the New World.The author studies the relations that developed between the Virgin, the King, and the royal slaves as the enslaved villagers imagined and negotiated social identity and freedom in this Caribbean frontier society. In the process, she examines several dimensions of the royal slaves' daily and imaginary lives. Drawing on a range of cultural, social, political, and economic sources, this book presents a multisided history of enslaved people as they remade colonial spaces and turned them into a new homeland in El Cobre. As they produced social memory and appropriated popular religious traditions centered on the Virgin of Charity, they reinvented their past and present as a new people within the structures and strictures of Spain's colonial world.
The Virgin, the King, and the Royal Slaves of El Cobre
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