Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot" by Deborah Willis

By Deborah Willis

As a tender South African lady of approximately twenty, Saartjie Baartman, the so-called 'Hottentot Venus', used to be dropped at London and put on express in 1810. Clad within the Victorian an identical of a physique stocking, and paraded throughout the streets and on level in a cage she grew to become a human spectacle in London and Paris. Baartman's specific body grew to become the thing of ridicule, interest, clinical inquiry, and wish till and after her untimely dying. The determine of Sarah Baartman used to be decreased to her sexual elements. "Black Venus 2010" lines Baartman's reminiscence in our collective histories, in addition to her symbolic background within the development and identification of black girls as artists, performers, and icons. The wide-ranging essays, poems, and photographs in "Black Venus 2010" symbolize one of the most compelling responses to Baartman. each grapples with the iconic legacy of this younger African girl who perpetually continues to be a touchstone for black ladies. participants contain: Elizabeth Alexander, Holly Bass, Petrushka A Bazin, William Jelani Cobb, Lisa Gail Collins, Renee Cox, J. Yolande Daniels, Carole Boyce Davies, Leon de Wailly, Manthia Diawara, Diana Ferrus, Cheryl Finley, Nikky Finney, Kianga ok. Ford, Terri Francis, Sander Gilman, Renee eco-friendly, pleasure Gregory, Lyle Ashton Harris, Michael D. Harris, Linda Susan Jackson, Kellie Jones, Roshini Kempadoo, Simone Leigh, Zine Magubane, E. Ethelbert Miller, Robin Mitchell, Charmaine Nelson, Tracey Rose, Radcliffe Roye, Bernadette Searle, Lorna Simpson, Debra S. Singer, Penny Siopis, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, Michele Wallace, Carla Williams, Carrie Mae Weems, J. T. Zealy, and the editor.

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The historiography of blacks in France is multifaceted and rapidly growing (this list is by no means comprehensive), from historian Sue Peabody’s brilliant and painstaking work of (re)inserting black histories in eighteenth-century France, There Are No Slaves in France: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Regime (New York and Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996) to Petrine Archer-Shaw’s Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s. Documentation of blacks in France began as early as 1961, when historian Shelby Thomas McCloy wrote The Negro in France (New York: University of Kentucky Press, 1961).

Sarah Bartmann, the Hottentot Venus, emerges only as a series of representations, first by Amelia, and second in a picture that causes horror. Adolph’s disgust “cures” him of his infatuation with Bartmann and, thus, blackness. ”53 Moreover, Amelia, a white Frenchwoman, can appropriate Bartmann simply by hearing about her. Amelia “knows” the Hottentot Venus enough to impersonate her and to deceive Adolph, who, judging by his responses, can really only love white Frenchwomen. That Amelia is always known by the audience to be French is paramount.

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, ed. ) 17. De Blainville, “Sur une femme de la race hottentote,” Bulletin des Sciences par la société philomatique de Paris (1816), 183–190. This early version of the autopsy seems to be unknown to William B. Cohen, The French Encounter with Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530–1880 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980). (See esp. ) See also Stephen Jay Gould, “The Hottentot Venus,” Natural History 91 (1982): 20–27. 18. , Black Personalities in the Era of the Slave Trade (London: Macmillan, 1983), 171–183.

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