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Poster corresponding to Jael Davis' research paper, presented at the 2023 STRC Fall Symposium.


Rarely are the experiences of enslaved women prioritized in studying the history of enslavement in the United States. This is particularly true in relation to how black women experienced, survived, and carved out agency in the face of sexual violence. Rather than acknowledge the strength demonstrated by these women, contemporary historiography relegates them to the position of victims. This research intervenes in this practice and argues that enslaved women worked hard to create agency for themselves in the face of sexual violence from those that enslaved them. More specifically, it argues that the presence of a community of other enslaved women determined the ways in which a woman was able to demonstrate sexual agency, retaliate against a sexual aggressor, and the way in which moral codes were constructed.

This research is done through a black feminist theoretical framework for the purpose of prioritizing black women’s voices and the centrality of relationships to other black women in navigating oppressive systems. A textual content analysis is utilized to approach the primary texts that are relied on within the research. Phenomenological methodology is utilized within the research in order to capture the reality of black women’s experiences with sexual violence and creating agency.