The Mulatta Concubine
Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic

Lisa Ze Winters

Exploring the geographies, genealogies, and concepts of race and gender of the African diaspora produced by the Atlantic slave trade


"Winters's broadly comparative methodology, especially the consideration of connections to sacred deities of Haitian voodoo and Mami Watta, an African diasporic goddess, may make this an unsettling book to some historians. But that discomfort is precisely why it would work well in graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses to spark productive discussions about the nature of historical evidence, in addition to being an important and provocative contribution to African diasporic studies, Atlantic history, African American history, and the histories of sexuality, gender, race, and slavery."
—Heather Miyano Kopelson, Journal of American History

“Ze Winters is part of a growing body of scholars who voice the challenges that researchers of the history of black women face in the absence of formal archival materials. . . . Ze Winters offers a vision of a global South that is neither static nor easy to characterize. She invites the reader in and asks such probing questions and offers such a fascinating analysis that we are left wanting more, in the best sense.”
—Jessica Millward, Journal of Southern History

More / Hide


Popular and academic representations of the free mulatta concubine repeatedly depict women of mixed black African and white racial descent as defined by their sexual attachment to white men, and thus they offer evidence of the means to and dimensions of their freedom within Atlantic slave societies. In The Mulatta Concubine, Lisa Ze Winters contends that the uniformity of these representations conceals the figure’s centrality to the practices and production of diaspora.

Beginning with a meditation on what captive black subjects may have seen and remembered when encountering free women of color living in slave ports, the book traces the echo of the free mulatta concubine across the physical and imaginative landscapes of three Atlantic sites: Gorée Island, New Orleans, and Saint Domingue (Haiti). Ze Winters mines an archive that includes a 1789 political petition by free men of color, a 1737 letter by a free black mother on behalf of her daughter, antebellum newspaper reports, travelers’ narratives, ethnographies, and Haitian Vodou iconography. Attentive to the tenuousness of freedom, Ze Winters argues that the concubine figure’s manifestation as both historical subject and African diasporic goddess indicates her centrality to understanding how free and enslaved black subjects performed gender, theorized race and freedom, and produced their own diasporic identities.

Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900

Page count: 248
8 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $59.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $27.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $59.95
Check ebook availability

Lisa Ze Winters is an associate professor of English and African American studies at Wayne State University