Date: August 2013
Creator: Siddiqi, M. Omar
Description: This study seeks to understand the development of early American ideas of race, religion, and gender as reflected in Indian and Barbary captivity narratives (tales of individuals taken captive by privateers in North Africa) and in plays that take American captives as their subject. Writers of both Indian and Barbary captivity narratives used racial and religious language – references to Indians and North Africans as demonic, physically monstrous, and animal – simultaneously to delineate Native American and North African otherness. The narrative writers reserved particular scorn for the figure of the Renegade – the willful cultural convert who chose to live among the Native Americans or adopt Islam and live among his North African captors. The narratives, too, reflect Early American gendered norms by defining the role of men as heads of household and women’s protectors, and by defining women by their status as dutiful wives and mothers. Furthermore, the narratives carefully treat the figure of the female captive with particular care – resisting implications of captive rape, even while describing graphic scenes of physical torture, and denying the possibility of willful transcultural sexual relationships.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries