Rachel Jean-Baptiste

Rachel Jean–Baptiste is an associate professor of African history at the University of California, Davis. Her articles have appeared in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Journal of Women's History, and the Journal of African History.

Listed in: African Studies · African History · Gender Studies

Finalist for the 2015 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize for outstanding book on African women’s experiences

Conjugal Rights · Marriage, Sexuality, and Urban Life in Colonial Libreville, Gabon
By Rachel Jean-Baptiste

Conjugal Rights is a history of the role of marriage and other arrangements between men and women in Libreville, Gabon, during the French colonial era, from the mid–nineteenth century through 1960. Conventional historiography has depicted women as few in number and of limited influence in African colonial towns, but this book demonstrates that a sexual economy of emotional, social, legal, and physical relationships between men and women indelibly shaped urban life.

“Through a judicious use of archival material from all levels of the empire…and oral interviews with approximately one hundred Gabonese, the author demonstrates that the growth of the city and the French empire cannot be convincingly written without a full account of the women and men who lived there, their struggles to form intimate relationships, and the strains that resulted from those relationships. …Conjugal Rights has much to offer readers, more than can be discussed here. Those interested in sexuality, gender, marriage, law, colonialism, and urban history— and not just in an African context—will be richly rewarded by the book.”

American Historical Review