Tamara J. Walker is an historian of slavery and gender in Latin America. Her first book, Exquisite Slaves: Race, Clothing, and Status in Colonial Peru (Cambridge University Press, in production), examines how slaves in a wealthy urban center used elegant clothing as a language for expressing myriad attitudes about gender and status. Exquisite Slaves draws on traditional historical research methods, visual studies, feminist theory, and material culture scholarship, in order to argue that clothing was an emblem of the not only the reach but also the limits of slaveholders’ power and racial domination in Lima.
Dr. Walker is currently at work on a new book project, Slavery and the South Sea, which focuses on the part of the Pacific Ocean that connected East Asia to Central and South America. This work seeks to show that, beyond counting among the valuable commodities that circulated on merchant ships, enslaved men, women, and children played instrumental roles in both protecting and pillaging the wealth that abounded in the region. In detailing their diverse experiences, the project lays claim to the sea as not just the beginning of Africans’ history in Spanish America, but as constitutive of it as well.
In addition to receiving support from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Dr. Walker’s work has appeared in such publications as Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Gender & History, and The Journal of Family History.