Choosing to be a Subject: Loyalist Women in the Revolutionary Atlantic World

Sarah C Chambers, Lisa A Norling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most scholarship on republican citizenship has emphasized the domestication of women and their exclusion from politics in the wake of the Atlantic revolutions, but attention to such loyalist women as Kezia Coffin in Massachusetts and Maria Antonia Bolivar in Venezuela reveals the ongoing viability of female agency in several arenas. This comparative study argues that, in choosing to retain their colonial identity within European empires, loyalist women in the Americas implicitly rejected the rising republican emphasis on the separation of public and private spheres. Coffin and Bolivar were motivated in defense of family position rather than individual political partisanship, but neither one would have identified herself primarily as wife or mother. Rather, they saw themselves as positioned in multiple ways within their kin networks and larger imperial communities, and this more supple and intersectional identity allowed their strategic deployment of power within overlapping economic and political fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-62
JournalJournal of Women's History
Volume20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

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