June 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Dantas Publishes Article on Economic Empowerment of Widows of African Descent in Brazil

Dr. Mariana Dantas, Associate Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies, published an article on “Succession of Property, Sales of Meação, and the Economic Empowerment of Widows of African Descent in Colonial Minas Gerais, Brazil” in the May 2014 Journal of Family History.

Abstract: Although Portuguese laws protected women’s right to property, the process of succession that followed a husband’s death in colonial Minas Gerais often threatened women’s economic well-being. Widows of African descent, moreover, were regularly denied custody of their children, having to defer to court-appointed guardians in matters regarding their property and education. In this context, some couples contracted the sale of the dying spouse’s meação to the surviving spouse. This understudied strategy of transmission of property empowered widows of African descent to act as heads of household and guardians to their children in ways that were not guaranteed by law.

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