Why Joanna Baptista Sold Herself into Slavery: Indian Women in Portuguese Amazonia, 1755-1798

Barbara A. Sommer, Gettysburg College


This article probes Joanna Baptista's motives and situates her actions not only in the milieu of slaveholding Brazil, but also in the more specific context of Portuguese Amazonia during the Directorate, when Indians faced forced resettlement and increased labor demands. Joanna's case and contemporary petitions demonstrate how women of Indian and mixed descent, especially single women, widows and orphans, used legal means to defend their autonomy.