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From Slavery to Poverty
Author: Gunja SenGupta

ISBN: 9780814740613
Format: Hardcover
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 16 June 2010
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 583.0 x 389.5 x 3.3
Description:


The racially charged stereotype of "welfare queen"--an allegedly promiscuous waster who uses her children as meal tickets funded by tax-payers--is a familiar icon in modern America, but as Gunja SenGupta reveals in From Slavery to Poverty, her historical roots run deep. For, SenGupta argues, the language and institutions of poor relief and reform have historically served as forums for inventing and negotiating identity.

Mining a broad array of sources on nineteenth-century New York City's interlocking network of private benevolence and municipal relief, SenGupta shows that these institutions promoted a racialized definition of poverty and citizenship. But they also offered a framework within which working poor New Yorkers--recently freed slaves and disfranchised free blacks, Afro-Caribbean sojourners and Irish immigrants, sex workers and unemployed laborers, and mothers and children--could challenge stereotypes and offer alternative visions of community. Thus, SenGupta argues, long before the advent of the twentieth-century welfare state, the discourse of welfare in its nineteenth-century incarnation, created a space to talk about community, r...

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