Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth-century America
In this provocative and original exploration of racial subjugation during slavery and its aftermath, Saidiya Hartman illumines the forms of terror and resistance that shaped black identity. Scenes of Subjection examines the forms of domination that usually go undetected; in particular, the encroachments of power that take place through notions of humanity, enjoyment, protection, rights, and consent. By looking at slave narratives, plantation diaries, popular theater, slave performance, freedmen's primers, and legal cases, Hartman investigates a wide variety of "scenes" ranging from the auction block and minstrel show to the staging of the self-possessed and rights-bearing individual of freedom. While attentive to the performance of power--the terrible spectacles of slaveholders' dominion and the innocent amusements designed to abase and pacify the enslaved--and the entanglements of pleasure and terror in these displays of mastery, Hartman also examines the possibilities for resistance, redress and transformation embodied in black performance and everyday practice. This important study contends that despite the legal abolition of slavery, emergent notions of individual will and responsibility revealed the tragic continuities between slavery and freedom. Bold and persuasively argued, Scenes of Subjection will engage readers in a broad range of historical, literary, and cultural studies.
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39th Cong African agency American Slave antebellum argued articulation black body Black Codes blackface captive body chattel slavery citizens citizenship Civil Rights Act coercion color condition Congressional Globe consent considered Constitution constraints context contract crime Culture dance defined desire disavowal discourse distinctions domination Douglass Dred Scott effort Elaine Scarry emancipation enactment enjoyment enslaved equality everyday exercise forms Fourteenth Amendment Frederick Douglass free labor freed Freedmen Freedmen's Bureau gender humanity Ibid individual injury issues John Freeman juba liberal liberty master minstrelsy miscegenation moral Nancy Fraser narrative negation Negro normative one's owners Oxford University Press pain performance person plantation pleasure Plessy police power political practices protection punishment race racial racism rape Rawick Reconstruction redress relations resistance seduction sentiment servitude sexual slave law slavery and freedom social rights song status subjugation submission subordination Thirteenth Amendment tion transformation violation violence whip women York