The Commodification and De-Commodification of Incarcerated Black Women’s Wombs and Work
The chapter reconsiders Georgia’s chain gang labor system by shifting the lens from the Jim Crow South’s convict labor production to the medicalized control over incarcerated Black women’s reproduction. In its exploration of medicalized language and the role of doctors in convict labor camps, this chapter explores how incarcerated black women experienced reproductive exploitation and control after the Civil War. At the heart of this essay is the Jim Crow South’s broader assault on black motherhood and the ways in which the Southern convict labor camp was a site meant to regulate labor production and human reproduction as shared elements of a carceral network. During slavery, black women’s wombs were commodified. After slavery, they were no longer of value. The chapter concludes that the regulation of black woman and motherhood at the site of Southern prisons had deleterious consequences for black women and the black family that stretched beyond the prison.
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