In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries imprisoned black women faced wrenching forms of gendered racial terror and heinous structures of economic exploitation. Subjugated as convict laborers and forced to serve additional time as domestic workers before they were allowed their freedom, black women faced a pitiless system of violence, terror, and debasement. Drawing upon black feminist criticism and a diverse array of archival materials, Sarah Haley uncovers imprisoned women’s brutalization in local, county, and state convict labor systems, while also illuminating the prisoners’ acts of resistance and sabotage, challenging ideologies of racial capitalism and patriarchy and offering alternative conceptions of social and political life.
A landmark history of black women’s imprisonment in the South, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity recovers stories of the captivity and punishment of black women to demonstrate how the system of incarceration was crucial to organizing the logics of gender and race, and constructing Jim Crow modernity.
Sarah Haley is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity is the winner of the 2016 Sara A. Whaley Prize, National Women's Studies Association and the 2016 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, Association of Black Women Historians.