In Exquisite Slaves, Tamara J. Walker examines how slaves
used elegant clothing as a language for expressing attitudes about gender and status in the wealthy urban center of eighteenth-
and nineteenth-century Lima, Peru. Drawing on traditional historical research methods, visual studies, feminist theory, and
material culture scholarship, Walker argues that clothing was an emblem of not only the reach but also the limits of slaveholders'
power and racial domination. Even as it acknowledges the significant limits imposed on slaves' access to elegant clothing,
Exquisite Slaves also showcases the insistence and ingenuity with which slaves dressed to convey their own sense of humanity
and dignity. Building on other scholars' work on slaves' agency and subjectivity in examining how they made use of myriad
legal discourses and forums, Exquisite Slaves argues for the importance of understanding the body itself as a site of claims-making.
Introduction; 1. Slavery and the aesthetic of mastery; 2. Legal status, gender, and self-fashioning; 3. Black bodies and
boundary trouble; 4. Painting, print culture, and colonial ideation; 5. Ladies, gentlemen, slaves, and citizens; Epilogue.
This book examines the relationship between clothing and status in the urban slaveholding society of Lima, Peru.