SURF

Tiger Schenkman

Coercion, Consent, and Illicit Love in the Time of Abolition

What can be said of love created under duress and continued into freedom? This question will guide my research into interracial couples who began seeing each other under slavery and continued through Abolition in Louisiana. My research will straddle the two periods immediately preceding and following Abolition, in order to pinpoint couples who weathered unsteady sociocultural and legal realities out of a commitment to their love. This project will therefore fill a lacuna of ambiguity in the study of interracial love during slavery; rather than focusing on legal history, I will specifically tackle the possibility that coerced love may have eventually grown consensual and find instances in which the two scenarios existed at once. Using primarily court cases in which interracial couples were tried, as well as manumission documents and contemporary slave narratives, I will explore the topics of consent, love, coercion, and power within these relationships, ultimately uncovering the extent to which they were born of coercion and the ways in which these coercive origins impacted the relationships over time.

Message to Sponsor

I struggle to even put to words how grateful I am for this opportunity, and how lucky I feel to be a SURF fellow this year. Thank you so much for allowing me to pursue this research project, without your generosity it would have been impossible.
  • Major: History
  • Sponsor: Leadership Fund
  • Mentor: Stephanie Jones-Rogers