Isaacman, Barbara S.
Isaacman, Barbara S.
Married Allen F. Isaacman.
Lawyer and writer. Hennepin County Public Defender's Office, Minneapolis, MN, attorney.
(With husband, Allen F. Isaacman) The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique: The Zambesi Valley, 1850-1921, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1976, published in England as The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique: Anti-Colonial Activity in the Zambesi Valley, 1850-1921, Heinemann (London, England), 1976.
(With Allen Isaacman) Mozambique: From Colonialism to Revolution, 1900-1982, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1983.
(With June Stephen) A Mulher Mocambicana No Processo De Libertaco, Instituto Nacional do Libro e do Disco (Maputo, Mozambique), 1984.
(With Allen F. Isaacman) Slavery and Beyond: The Making of Men and Chikunda Ethnic Identities in the Unstable World of South-Central Africa, 1750-1920, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 2004.
Barbara S. Isaacman, a lawyer who practices criminal defense in the Hennepin County Public Defender's Office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is also the author or coauthor of several books. She is the author, with June Stephen, of Mozambique—Women, the Law, and Agrarian Reform. In this book, Isaacman and Stephen examine the changing legal status of Mozambican women from precolonial to modern times with an emphasis on the contribution of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FREMILO). The front took over the government from the Portuguese in 1975 following a liberation struggle. The authors describe how the women had suffered under the traditional patriarchal system and Portuguese rule.
They had no legal status, economic power, or sexual freedom. The authors go on to delve into how the FREMILO constitution guarantees women's rights and citizenship and how efforts in education, agrarian reform and socialized health care are all contributing to an increase in women's rights. Since the Portuguese have left Mozambique, women have garnered important posts in the legislature and people's assemblies via elections. New laws have also been established to reflect spousal equality, joint child care responsibilities, and monogamy. Women now can work in most fields, including mining, on the railroads, and in various industries. The authors also describe how contraception, abortion, and family planning are being introduced into a society that has emphasized fertility as a high social value.
Isaacman has also written books with her husband, the historian Allen F. Isaacman, including The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique: The Zambesi Valley, 1850-1921, Mozambique: From Colonialism to Revolution, 1900-1982, and Slavery and Beyond: The Making of Men and Chikunda Ethnic Identities in the Unstable World of South-Central Africa, 1750-1920. In Mozambique, the authors trace the evolution of the former Portuguese colony from the time of resistance and revolution into the modern socialist state and the troubles it faces. Starting with the precolonial period, which lasted from 1500 to 1880, the authors go on to examine the region under Portuguese rule, the wars of resistance from 1885 to 1913, and the overall colonial period from 1900 to 1962. Among the other topics they discuss are the social costs of colonial-capitalism, popular opposition to colonial rule, rural protest, struggles of the urban workers, various other voices of protest, and the struggle for independence. The book concludes with an examination of modern Mozambique in the context of the wider world.
In Slavery and Beyond, the Isaacmans provide a historical examination of slavery, gender, labor, and ethnicity in East Africa, especially Mozambique. Tracing the history of Chikunda warriors back to the time of slavery in the mid-eighteenth century along with their role in helping suppress other Africans, the authors go on to explain how the Chikunda were able to amass wealth and power even though they were slaves. The authors also examine how freed slaves sought new ways of supporting themselves, such as the Chikunda who became elephant hunters in the last half of the nineteenth century, as well as those who became porters and frontiersmen. In addition, the authors look at the impact of early colonialism on the Chikunda from 1900 to 1930.
In their book, the Isaacmans point out that the Chikunda adhered to a military identity of masculine bravery. They avoided agricultural work and became part of the bands formed by warlords in the middle part of the nineteenth century. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Chikunda faced an identity crisis because of Portuguese colonialism, which disbanded the warlord bands and initiated forced labor. Moving to neighboring British colonies, the Chikunda left behind their warrior identity as they sought standard wage-paying jobs. "In this study, the authors have succeeded in letting the Chikunda speak for themselves as much as their sources would allow," wrote Lawrence S. Dritsas in Africa. Dritsas went on to write in the same review that the book "offers a fascinating study of Chikunda identity that also provides the reader with a rich history of the Zambezi valley."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Africa, spring, 2005, Lawrence S. Dritsas, review of Slavery and Beyond: The Making of Men and Chikunda Ethnic Identities in the Unstable World of South-Central Africa, 1750-1920, p. 242.
American Historical Review, June, 2005, Clifton Crais, review of Slavery and Beyond, p. 912.
Choice, December, 2004, C. Higgs, review of Slavery and Beyond, p. 714.
International Journal of African Historical Studies, spring, 2005, Joseph C. Miller, review of Slavery and Beyond, p. 351.