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Sarah Baartman's iconic status as the "Hottentot Venus" - as "victimized" African woman, "Mother" of the new South Africa, and ancestral spirit to countless women of the African Diaspora - has led to an outpouring of essays, biographies, films, interviews, art installations, and centers, comprising a virtual archive that seeks to find some meaning in her persona.

Yet even those with the best intentions, fighting to give Baartman agency, a voice, a personhood, continue to service the general narratives of European documentation of her life without asking "What if we looked at Baartman through another lens? Passar bra ihop. Recensioner i media. Bloggat om Representation and Black Womanhood. The story of Sara Baartman, the humiliations, the devaluing and sexualising of her body as well as naming her "Hottentot Venus" see Appendix 1 , is what McKaiser refers to as structural Privilege of Whiteness and Absence of Blackness.

To use Fanon's narrative, the portraits of Sara Baartman represent the distinction between those in the zone of being and those in the zone of non-being. Sarah Baartman is yet another example of the conqueror's inhumanity towards the indigenous conquered peoples. The narrative about where she was born and how she arrived in Europe has been well documented.

Conclusion sarah baartman michelle obama william and

For the purposes of this article, I will not endeavour to attempt to outline what scholars such as Bernth Lindfors ; Sadiah Qureshi ; Simone Kerseboom ; Jean Young , and Zine Magubane did. It is critical to contextualise the parading of Sarah Baartman.


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Her story is written from a European perspective, with a specific agenda to support White hegemony. It is also crucial to contextualise the 19 th -century world view, which operated on "Subject" and "Object". The "Subject" produces knowledge, while the "Object" is studied by the "Subject". It is said that Saartjie Baartman willingly agreed to go to Europe in order to make money. Furthermore, she was a slave; the right to choose to go or not to go was limited or not there at all.

From the very beginning she was an object of study, something she was not aware of. She was meant to make money for the slave owner, as the coloniser owned her entire being by virtue of her being an "Object" slave. In this instance, one can mention the earlier arguments by Maldonado-Torres and Grosfoguel of the "I" and the "Other".

In so doing, one will be able to understand the question: Why her? To arrive at the answer, it is imperative to define racism. Such a definition will enable one to ask uncomfortable questions relating to the social hierarchy of being in the 21 st century.

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Grosfoguel defines racism as a. It can be argued that racialisation occurs through the marking of bodies. Some bodies are racialised as superior and others as inferior. In the case of Sarah Baartman, besides her Black skin colour as a marker, her physique and anatomy further characterise her as an inferior being. The pictures see Appendix 1 indicate the following: first, a non-being as an object of study.

It is through the drawings and the narratives written about her by the colonisers that the story of Sarah is the manifestation of misguided parody.

The significance of Sarah Baartman - BBC News

Sarah was displayed naked for purposes of ridicule; the feigned derision was, in fact, the hidden admiration of the irresistible beauty of the Black woman. Ramose further states that the invitation to Sarah to "display her body" in the first instance, and the rejection of her at the circus lead to her being "a prostitute".

After all, a prostitute who is neither attractive nor skillfully seductive shall have no one to sleep with and will soon be out of business. Her "large genitals", verdurous, fecund and luscious, were beautiful, vibrant and inviting. Only a few declined the invitation. Many could not resist the desire to penetrate her "large genitals" and, under the power of those genitals, their phallic empire collapsed into an orgasmic swoon Ramose Pornography encompasses a variety of discursive and representational practices in which the regard of the other is inseparable from violence and scandalous access.

It is [akin to] pornotroping that is the use of the captive body, the thing, the animal as a material and symbolic resource which provides being for the captor by way of conflation, powerlessness, objectification and sexuality and which makes a particular historical incarnation of man the exemplary figure of the human. In line with Hartman's definition of pornography, Sarah's body was a captive body used to provide the captor colonialist with satisfaction.

Furthermore, the image portrays her with her legs wide open to satisfy the imaginary needs of the Presence. It is the objectification of her as a body penetrable, conquerable, destructible and Absent. The image also shows how the captor viewed her as an animal:. Unlike Andrew Marvell's 'Coy Mistress', whose long-preserved virginity would spitefully be tried by worms, Sarah Baartman's unpreserved virginity was trampled upon by abusive wild White men. Her 'large genitals' were not tried by worms in Paris because even in her death the beauty and attraction of those genitals was preserved for admiration and adoration by the living and yet-to-be-born sons of the colonial conqueror Ramose He further states that blackness has a beauty that surpasses the splendour of the enigmatic beauty of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

Thus, the treatment received by Sarah Baartman, her displacement as well as the display of her genitals for public view in order to satisfy White man's desire and to feed his imaginary longing to penetrate an African woman was concerned with, among other things, her beauty. Ramose concludes:. The beauty of the black woman is not destined ineluctably to end up in prostitution. Under conditions of slavery or under cover of secrecy, the conqueror failed to resist the beauty of the [B]lack woman. Her animal-like shadow in the photo illustrates the cosmological, theological, and ideological location of how White men conceived of her being as that of a subhuman.

As mentioned earlier, the construction of the Imago Dei by Western philosophy and theology as pertaining to White people or whiteness as human beings and anything outside whiteness as nonhuman, the missing link. The mirror on the photo presents a paradox, that is, first the animal-like shadow; secondly, the image appearing on the mirror is a human being, a Black Body.

The face expresses sadness, conflation, powerlessness, objectification, subjugation, and cruelty performed on her Black body. Under conditions of slavery or under cover of secrecy, the conqueror failed to resist the beauty of the Black woman Ramose Secondly, a non-being is a sexual object to gratify the master's sexual needs. Thirdly, as Ramose states, the story of Sarah is also a testimony to the brutal, amoral, and lawless slavery that existed in South Africa.

Representation and Black Womanhood

This can be summarized as. Based on the argument in relation to how Black Bodies are viewed, racism can be defined as:. Grosfoguel Thus the continual destruction of Black Bodies throughout history, even in the 21 st century, is founded on the premise of superiority versus inferiority, colour, ethnicity, language, culture, and religion. All of these can be termed colourism, pigmentation, while others may refer to these as discrimination or prejudice.

However, as Grosfoguel points out, the above markers also influence the hierarchy of being. For example, in South Africa during apartheid, various racial markers were used to categorise people according to their race. In the context of the use of military tactics by the police in the Marikana massacre and other protests in this country and in the United States, it can be argued that the system espouses itself as democratic", "nonracist", "non-sexist", "equal", and "justice for all" Republic of South Africa Yet, it is within such a system that Black Bodies continue to be brutally destroyed, because to the capitalist, patriarchal, Western-centric, Christian-centric, modern, colonial world system, Black lives do not form part of the hierarchical structure of being.

Davis makes the following assertion regarding violence against black people:. Although racist state violence has been a consistent theme in the history of people of African descent in North America Davis further states that the historical process of colonisation was a violent conquest of human beings and of the land they stewarded. She maintains that there is a need to identify the genocidal assaults "on the first peoples of this land as the foundational arena for the many forms of state and vigilante violence that followed".

Beckles gives a compelling argument regarding Britain's repeated denial that indigenous genocide, slave trade, and the institution of slavery were a protracted commercial, governmental, religious, and royal enterprise. It is for this reason that, in the United States and in South Africa, Black lives do not matter as much as "White lives" - for example, police brutality in the United States and in South Africa, and the Marikana massacre; this is what one can refer to as state violence within a democratic system:. If indeed all lives mattered, we would not need to emphatically proclaim that "Black Lives Matter".

There are many more specific instances we would have to name before we can ethically and comfortable claim that All Lives Matter Davis It is my submission, as I will argue in the next section, that there is a need to problematise the issue of human rights, considering how the system operates and continues to locate Black Bodies. Throughout history, the brutal killing of Black people has never been a problem for the system.

This can be traced back to the beginning of "European expansion" in the name of religion Christianity. Church leaders sanctioned such atrocities. In the context of South Africa, as Snyman argues, the Bible became central in the construction of the "Afrikaner" identity and, subsequently, the racial divide of the nation.

The brutal killing of Black people has never been an issue of human rights; it is for this reason that Davis 77 argues that "racist state violence has been a consistent theme in the history of people of African descent". It is only when a White body is killed that they see a need for human rights.

Table of contents

These rights, I would argue, are meant more for the untouchable body [Presence] than for the Black Body [Absence]. The issue of human rights is interconnected with White supremacy, state violence, and mass incarceration of Black men and women across the globe. It is for this reason that Davis argues:. Racism, as it has evolved in the history of the United States, has always involved a measure of criminalization that it is not difficult to understand how stereotypical assumptions about Black people being criminals persists to this day.