Enslaved Domestic Work in an Atlantic Sephardic Household | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1781-7838
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1792

Abstract

Abstract

Sephardic Jews were involved in the burgeoning Atlantic trade of the seventeenth century, which linked Europe, Africa, and the Americas. As a highly mobile community, they may have lived in various places throughout their lives. As the Sephardic community settled in Amsterdam in the early-to-mid seventeenth century, they had to contend with issues that these travels brought to the fore, one of which was the boundary between enslavement and paid employment. While living in the Americas, Sephardic merchants often had enslaved people working in their households. What happened, though, when they brought these people to Amsterdam? By a close reading of the scant documentation available, this article shows the agency – and its limits – of two young women of African descent who were employed as enslaved domestic workers by a Sephardic merchant.

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