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Parts of People: The Trade in Parts of Slaves (Piracicaba, Province of São Paulo, 1861-1887)


We studied small sales of ideal parts of slaves registered in Piracicaba, province of São Paulo, from 1861 to 1887, when the locality had its economy marked by coffee cultivation. There were 17 transactions involving nine men, six women and two infants. We noticed that this type of transaction was often linked to the result of partition of property in inventory processes. The inheritance of partial ownership of slaves entailed that sort of small buying and selling operations among heirs, often resulting in the possession "in full" of the persons inherited by the buyers of the slave parts. Thus, transacting “a piece” of a person, frequently, simply meant to adjust the blind math of the equitable division of an estate among those who inherited it.

Internal slave trade; Expansion of coffee cultivation in São Paulo; Piracicaba; Economy of slavery

Universidade Estadual Paulista Julio de Mesquita Filho Faculdade de Ciências e Letras, UNESP, Campus de Assis, 19 806-900 - Assis - São Paulo - Brasil, Tel: (55 18) 3302-5861, Faculdade de Ciências Humanas e Sociais, UNESP, Campus de Franca, 14409-160 - Franca - São Paulo - Brasil, Tel: (55 16) 3706-8700 - Assis/Franca - SP - Brazil