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slaverys visual resonance in the contemporary

kimberly juanita brown

Sl avery s

The Repeating Body

in the

Kimberly Juanita Brown

Duke University Press

Durham and London2015

2015 Duke University Press

All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
Designed by Amy Ruth Buchanan
Typeset in Quadraat by Tseng Information Systems, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brown, Kimberly Juanita, [date]
The repeating body : slaverys visual resonance in the
contemporary / Kimberly Juanita Brown.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
isbn 978-0-8223-5909-8 (hardcover : alk. paper)
isbn 978-0-8223-5929-6 (pbk. : alk. paper)
isbn 978-0-8223-7541-8 (e-book)
1. African American women.2. African American women
in literature.3. African American women in art.4. Human
body.5. Human body in literature.6. Human figure in art.
7. Slavery.8. Collective memory.I. Title.
e185.86.b69745 2015
This publication was made possible [in part] by financial
assistance from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund,
a program of the Reed Foundation.
Cover art: When I Am Not Here/Estoy Alla, Mara Magdalena
Campos-Pons. Courtesy of the artist.

For my father
and my sister

For the Pathbreakers:

Nellie Y. M c Kay
Barbara Christian
Sherley Anne Williams
Sylvia Ardyn Boone
Toni Cade Bambara
Audre Lorde
Claudia Tate
June Jordan


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Visualizing the Body of the Black Atlantic1


Black Rapture18
Corporeal Afterimage and Transnational Desire


Fragmented Figurations of the Maternal57


The Boundaries of Excess96


The Return138
Conjuring the Figure, Following the Form

Conclusion: Photographic Incantations of the Visual177
Notes 195
Bibliography 229
Index 245


I came to this project from several different angles and avenues, different mediums, genres, and theoretical points of view. All have had their
human guideposts and beacons. All have brought me to this place. The Repeating Body began in the African American Studies Department and the
American Studies Program at Yale University. My dissertation committee had much to contend with as I moved closer and closer to the end of
the project. Their grace and consistency made a difficult task that much
easier. My dissertation chair, Robert Burns Stepto, is the epitome of exceptional humanity: a wonderful scholar, a probing and exacting adviser,
an exuberant teacher, and a flawless writer. He gave me poetry at Yale,
and I am not soon to forget what that means. The scope of this project
is a testament to his interest, patience, and dedication. Laura Wexlers
insight and attention to detail allowed the project to reach its fullness.
Matthew Frye Jacobson provided the steady pace and encouragement I
needed and will always remember. I thank you all for your patience and
hope this book is a small token of my appreciation.
My time at Yale brought me many gifts, most in the form of friendship and collaboration. Brandi Hughes, Kaysha Corinealdi, Lyneise Williams, Nicole N. Ivy, Robin Bernstein, Qiana Robinson-Whitted, Heather
Andrea Williams, Sarah Haley, Courtney J. Martin, Tisha Hooks, Laura
Grappo, Dara Orenstein, Megan Glick, Erin D. Chapman, Lara Langer
Cohen, Shana L. Redmond, and G. Melssa GarciaI want to thank you
for your individual and collective brilliance, the multiple times you have
each saved me from myself, and the future we have before us. My conversations with Erin D. Chapman consist of both laughter and intense concern for the future of black feminism in the academy. I want to thank her

for an unrelenting code of honor, which I hope to one day emulate. Lara
Langer Cohen has had my full and complete admiration since we shared
a booth on a train from Durham, England, to London. I thank her for
those important moments we contemplate our academic lives in an off-
the-beaten-path caf. I have G. Melssa Garcia to thank for our continued
(and continuing) conversations about our interlocking interests in gender studies and visual culture, and Kaysha Corinealdi for the import of
thinking diasporically at all times.
At Rice University I was given the opportunity to pursue research and
writing at my own pace, supported by a humanities postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Rosemary Hennessy and Lora Wildenthal made my time there an intellectual
joy. I will be eternally grateful for the time I spent there and the work it
has produced. My sincere thanks to Helena Michie, Betty Joseph, Jos
Aranda, and Kirsten Osther. I was especially lucky to be a part of a group
of humanities postdoctoral fellows invested in the preservation of both
research and sanity. Mary Helen Dupree, Voichita Nachescu, Gordon
Hughes, and Jeanne Scheper were my entre to both Houston and a writing group that rotated from caf to caf throughout the city and created
a camaraderie I can only hope will find a way to continue.
I have had the great fortune to be mentored by Carla Kaplan, who leads
by exuberant example. Her dedication has enriched this project, and I
am fortunate to have her encouragement and advice. Elizabeth Maddock
Dillon and Nicole N. Aljoe share my concern for all things transatlantic,
literary, and visual. I hope our conversations continue and become ever
more expansive. Elizabeth Dillon introduced this project to Duke University Press, and for this she has my enduring thanks. I thank Marina Leslie
for craft-influenced kindness, laughter, and wit.
I want to acknowledge the many people whose work, time, and mentoring have been instrumental to my scholarship and the way I am thinking about my work in its present manifestation. Ann duCille, Junia
Ferreira Furtado, Thadious Davis, Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Jennifer
DeVere Brody, Shawn Michelle Smith, Vera Wells, Wai Chee Dimock,
Jennifer L. Morgan, Paul Gilroy, O. Hugo Benavides, Lloyd Pratt, and
Christina Sharpethank you for the many gifts I have received from you.
Lisa Cartwright has made mentoring a mission statement, full of genuine
interest and enthusiasm. For Saidiya Hartman in particular, I want you to

know that I have taken your words and your deeds as a cartography of the
life of the mind that I am still mapping out, slowly.
My research has been supported by the Mellon-Mays Foundation;
the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University; the Woodrow Wilson Foundation; the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women at Brown University; the Ruth Landes
Memorial Grant (the Reed Foundation); and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. I
have appreciated the time, the resources, and the conversations afforded
me by the generosity I found at each of these institutions. A portion of
the first chapter of this book was published as an essay in the fall 2007
issue of wsq. I thank the Feminist Press for allowing me the opportunity
to deepen my engagement with the essay in this book. Elizabeth Ault,
Sara Leone, and Ken Wissoker at Duke University Press have my profound
appreciation and thanks for a process that was efficient, smooth, and
utterly civilized. I thank the readers at Duke (both known and unknown)
for their interventions and thoughtful comments on the book. This is a
stronger project because of your serious engagement with it.
In Boston I was exceptionally fortunate to be a part of the New Eng
land Black Studies Collective. I am humbled by the friendships that
began therewith Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Alisa Braithwaite, Monica
White Ndounou, Sam Vasquez, Stphanie Larrieux, and Sandy Alexandre (dance, dance)and am blessed to continue to know you. Marcia
Chatelain, Samantha A. Noel, and Shirley Carrie Hartman are the gifts
that keep on giving, and I thank them for that. I have known Shirley
Carrie since we were both undergraduates at Queens College, and our
fifteen-year-old friendship is still blossoming. Caroline Light is a trooper,
a guidepost, and a friend. This work is enriched by the members of The
Dark Room: Race and Visual Culture Studies Seminar, a group of scholars who have elegantly altered the trajectory of my thinking. For this I
am forever in your debt. My graduate students teach me every day how
to imagine my work through their engagement with it, and I remain impressed by the stunning intellectual projects they produce as they move
through the program.
In Providence (the city, that is) my good fortune has been good company. Tanya Sheehan and Daniel Harkett, Toby Sisson, Franoise Hamlin,
Esther Jones, Patricia A. Lott, Karida Brown, Rebecca Louise Carter, Lara

Stein Pardo, and Courtney J. Martin make an already creative and vibrant
city so much more than that. May we continue to find pleasure and solace
in this space of boundless energy.
My success as a scholar is a testament to my family and their collective
dedication to me. My father is the man I most admire, and in more ways
than I can count he makes me proud to do this work. My sister Yolanda
is my best friend and the mother of three of my favorite people in the
world. Thank you for always reminding me that there is a larger purpose
to this work.
I have Vanessa M. Liles and Nadine Adjoa Smith to thank for my continued attempts at rooted activism, Trimiko Melancon for unreasonable
laughter and bawdy behavior, and Sarah Haley (sahaley) for determined
and consistent humanistic endeavors (to think of others more often than
I think of myself ).
I thank Adebola Asekun for decades-long care and affection. And for
Finally, this book was written to music. From the first few scrambled
thoughts on slips of paper to the crazed final moments of revision, we
have formed a rhythmic synthesisa melodious understanding carved
out of easy isolation and submersion: the music, the book, and me. I
want to thank the gifted artists who have made this journey image-rich,
provocative, and eclectic. My appreciation goes out to Roberta Flack,
Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Marisa Monte, John Coltrane, Africando, the
Roots, Amy Winehouse, Alice Smith, Anthony Hamilton (dap, Vanessa),
Concha Buika, Maxwell, Janelle Mone (turn thanks, Shana), Zap Mama,
Rokia Traor, Leela James, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Mos Def,
Meshell Ndegeocello, Lila Downs and Susana Baca (gracias, Melissa),
Phyllis Hyman, Marvin Gaye and Beres Hammond (always, daddy), Fela
Kuti, Damien Rice, Lhasa de Sela (obrigada, Kaysha), Sade, and Cassandra
Wilson. I absolutely could not have done it without you.



Visualizing the Body of the Black Atlantic

What did they do to your memory

That makes my quiet walk unknown to you.
Cristina Cabral

Audre Lordes poem Afterimages takes the murder of Emmett Till and
its famous photographic representation as a key moment of black memory and makes the poem take the place of the photograph, creating a lasting image of history and engaging the power of the eye in the word, in the
body. However the image enters, the poem begins, its force remains
within.1 The speaker attempts to contain and release the tremendous
burden of black subjectivity when that subjectivity is tethered to sight.
To think of the afterimage in its plurality, in the collectivity of vision it
renders, is to engender a discourse of the visual in the service of violated
black bodiesboth past and present. My eyes are always hungry, the
speaker continues, and remembering.2 Memory here measures the distance of the length of gash across the dead boys loins / his grieving
mothers lamentation / the severed lips, how many burns / his gouged
out eyes.3 The import of collective visibility cannot be separated from
the gendered nature of the speakers witnessing. Her eye absorbs the imprint of the event, and it haunts her, filling her eyes with images both
violent and lingering. Words drip from the poem, slowly paced but with
precision, and imbued with the range of racial violations set against black
people and over black flesh. Lordes racialized and gendered subjectivity
enters the frame and invests the image with a totality of vision. In this

way she orients the eye of the viewer so that there is no way for the viewer
to remain outside the framework of vision when that vision is gendered
no way not to see if that field of vision includes black women.
Fred Moten hears in the visualization of the Till photograph an auditory impulse that propels the urgency of the image it hopes to frame. The
fear of another castration, Moten writes, is all bound up in this aversion
of the eye.4 In the dissonant, polyphonic affectivity of the ghost, he
declares, there is the trace of what remains to be discovered.5 Lorde is
invested in this trace as well. The afterimage as familiar distortion, as at
once different and familiardissonant and polyphonicis a space
of imagery unfolding. The time-elapsed significance of this unfolding
is also a part of its force. Taking the shape of the image before it, only
altered, the afterimage requires the work of the viewer in order to be decipherable. To be known.
But however the image enters the black imaginary, its force remains.6 For Lorde it is a moving carousel of violated black flesh that
the poet encounters when she walks through a northern summer, her
eyes averted / from each corners photographies. Her particular aversion has a sound that matches Motens. And for her it is louder than
life and circular, leading from pictures of black broken flesh / used,
crumpled, and discarded / lying amid the sidewalk refuse / like a raped
womans face, to the flickering afterimages of a nightmare rain.7 I
wade through summer ghosts, she writes, betrayed by vision / hers and
my own. This betrayal of vision is one of severe iteration, as summer
ghosts populate the speakers ocular canvas, vying for her attention.
Mamie Till, Emmett Tills mother, is the other her who forces
a photographic engagement with the murder of her only child, and in
Lordes poem Mamie Till is also the her who wrings her hands / beneath the weight of agonies remembered, and her sons famous photographic imprint lingers over and through Lordes articulation.8 In the
doubling properties of her use of refuse (lying amid the sidewalk
refuse), Lorde locates an urban iteration of a southern horror steeped
in what Saidiya Hartman calls the afterlife of slavery.9
The site of memory is also the sight of memory, Katherine McKittrick
contends, invoking the Toni Morrison essay that places blackness in the
landscape of the racial formation of the United States.10 For McKittrick,
then, imagination requires a return to and engagement with painful

places, worlds where black people were denied humanity, belonging, and
formal citizenship.11 To enter this engagement and its painful places
requires an examination of transatlantic slavery and black womens necessary positioning within it. It requires a totality of visionthe image
and the afterimagein order to grapple with all of the ways in which
black women fail to be seen with any clarity or insight.
What Mary Ann Doane refers to as the persistence of vision, the
photographic afterimage, is embodied in the literature of the African diaspora with its insistence on visually rendering the potency and force
of the transnational imaginary.12 This afterimage is also present within
the visual culture of the black Atlantic and forms a layering of contingent imagery therein. It is the place where black womens endurances
have been used against them, and their bare survival is reconfigured as a
strength that cannot be altered, damaged, or destroyed. The force of representation enters a collective consciousness and remains withinseen,
though distortedand therefore remaining unknown.13 Part of the purpose of this project is to follow the trace of slaverys memory in black
womens literary and visual representations. I am specifically interested
in the realm of the visual and the proliferation of imagery seeking to address the impossible duality between black womens representations and
slaverys memory.
I turn to John Edgar Widemans novel The Cattle Killing (1996) to consider the import of the afterimage in this work of fiction. Early on in the
novel, the unnamed narrator speaks briefly with Rowe, a former slave
physically and emotionally scarred by the oppressive system he endured,
his whole dark body a map of torture.14 The narrator wonders how Rowe
still manages to possess a smile that positively glows against the reality
of his present existence.15 When Rowe is asked to share the vision that
beams in his gaze of subtle satisfaction, the former slave happily agrees.
Sometime I looks at the sky and close my eyes and I see the whole world
startin over again, Rowe begins.16 In this space of internal visual creation, the ex-slave observes a black man and a black woman and a white
man and a white woman laid side by side fresh out of the oven and theys
the only people God done made. Black man he wake up first this time.
Remember everything. Quick. Grab ax. Chop white man head.17 Rowe
continues his reimagining of the biblical story of creation by next figuring the black man and the white woman in a narrow lock where he sexuIntroduction3

ally possesses her but ensures that she will bear no childrenthat, in the
future, aint gone be no more white peoples cept this one woman.18
Rowe spends the majority of this monologue concerned with ramming
and fixing the white woman and ends by turning to the narrator, saying, And that, scuse me Reverend, what I see sometimes when you see
me smiling up at Heaven, Amen.19
In this unsettling and violent liberation narrative, the phrase remember everything is key. It is at once a rhetorical statement (I remember
everything) and a command, delivered in the imperative (remember
everything!). Embedded within an imagined momentary yielding, Rowe
fantasizes about trading places with his white patriarchal counterpart
and severing his competition in one fell swoop. Remember everything.
Within the phrase, buried silently beneath the dichotomous repulsion/
desire left lingering and barren inside the body of the white woman, is the
assumed acceptance and collusion of the black woman, who, we are to
imagine, shares her memory with Rowe and understands his inclination
toward violence. Is the former slave truly working within the process of
memory? He moves seamlessly between an act of physical liberation to
chop white man head and shifts immediately onto his next concern, the
white woman, lying prostrate, eager to receive him. She is envisioned as
a version of evil he must destroy by giving a good ramming. For a man
musing over his ability to remember everything, the passage is conveniently forgetful of the black woman who is integral to the narrative
but ignored within it. She is a visual necessity, but a logistical inconvenience. The black woman in this example is an afterimage of all she has
witnessed and experienceda ghost of representation. She is both betrayed by vision, in Lordes imagination, and lying amid the sidewalk
refuse, awaiting her articulation. The passage situates her within Rowes
narrative and tangential to her body: a visual vessel for Rowes imagination and an apt illustration of his need to return to the origin of mans
creation and begin again.
If, as Doane asserts, the afterimage proves that vision was subject
to delay, and that the theory of the afterimage presupposes a temporal aberration, an incessant invasion of the present moment by the
past, what is to be made of the black Atlantic body forgotten?20 Doanes
useful articulation, the idea that temporality invades vision, is one that
lends itself to the machinations of the afterimage of slavery, and the

interactions that locate themselves between the hyperpresence of black

women within the slave system and the particular experiences that continue to present them as marked women, to borrow from Hortense
Spillers, that render a kind of hieroglyphics of the flesh and whose
disjunctures come to be hidden to the cultural seeing by skin color.21 In
order to remember everything, Rowe would have to acknowledge the
black woman who emerged with him fresh out of the oven as an entity
imbued with a history of infliction and capable of considering herself
deserving of a recognized historya remember everything of her very
own. In this recognition, her story would be told from her specific vantage point; her concerns, her desires, and her observations would rise to
the forefront.
The negotiated trajectory of tortured flesh is explored most fully in
Toni Morrisons novel Beloved (1987), which depicts three generations of
women related through blood, slavery, and death. For Sethe, a woman
with bodily scars ever present but not easily seen, her obsessive attempt
to control memory frames her engagement with the world. Negotiating
multiple traumatic violations against her body (physical, sexual, psychological, generational, scopic, maternal), she retreats into a world of word,
sound, and image, vacillating between the material and the ethereal as
her long-dead daughter returns to her in the flesh.
The generational lineage of black pain, literally written on the back
of black female subjectivity, is a repetition of imagistic concern in the
novel. In Sethes world, there is the scarred back that she cannot see and
the killed daughter made flesh again (and this she can see). Slaverys violent proximities, its aggressive intimacy is mapped out in Morrisons
novel with a particular attention to the world of the visual. This is an
intimacy and proximity that provides breast milk to other peoples offspring, features a negotiation of sex within violence, and conflates and
elongates temporality, and therefore pain.22 To remember everything in fragments and pieces. The marking of Sethes flesh happens against her will,
and the physical scars, the keloids she possesses on her back, rise out of
the physical and sexual violence she has sustained and thicken instead of
disappearing. The residue of this slave experience is a part of Sethes rememory, a reframing of the particular and the general that she utilizes
in order to hold firm to her subjectivity and to get other people to see it
as she does.

Sethes witnessing is thus communal and interactive, and though her

pain is her own, she articulates it outward as a less evolved part of her
subconscious that she must nevertheless appease. Sethe attempts to curtail illegible torture at the point of the narrative visual. Beloved offers us
a rememory for Rowes remember everything and, in doing so, a
unique way of seeing the force that remains within. Sethe reorganizes temporal order as she remembers events and emphasizes the intimate contingencies others may miss when, for instance, they focus on one aspect of
her physical presentation (the tree on her back) as opposed to others that
are less visible (her stolen milk, her missing husband, her dead child). In
Beloved there are unique and expected corporeal repetitions: two Denvers
(Sethes daughter and Amy Denver, the white woman who helps Sethe
give birth to her last child); three Beloveds (the baby, crawling already,
the ghost in the home, and the woman who returns to 124 Bluestone
Road to take the babys fleshed-out and grown adult female form); and
several Pauls (the brothers: Paul D, Paul A, Paul F). Bodies repeat in the
narrative in an attempt to grasp the enormous weight of slavery on black
Atlantic subjects. The repeated bodies, narratives, and names make clear
that it takes many generations to grasp the horrendous event of slavery.
And in order to remember everything, black women, alive, dead, and
in-between, linger and loiter, waiting to have their stories told. My interest in this project is to trace out these repetitions as they move across particular genres of representation and to think through these renderings
that have so encapsulated the black imaginary within a narrow containment of black womens visibility.
In his introduction to The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern
Perspective, Antonio Bentez-Rojo graphically utilizes the symbolic power
of imperial violation through the rhetoric of birth-through-conquest.
The Atlantic is the Atlantic, he writes, because it was the painfully
delivered child of the Caribbean, whose vagina was stretched between
continental clamps. During this process of violation, Bentez-Rojo asserts, after the blood and salt water spurts, quickly sew up torn flesh
and apply the antiseptic tinctures, the gauze and surgical plaster; then
the febrile wait through the forming of a scar.23 Here gendered hyperpresence, indeed, the gendered hyperavailability of particular bodies, is
treated to both a violent birth and a kind of postmortem examination,
with all of the clinical investigation the event necessitates. In this space

of birth without female subjectivity, the gendered body is one of total

and complete physical (and violent) utility. To think of the painfully
delivered child as having a birth mother would necessitate a consideration that was both observant and inclusive. The integrity of the race
is thus made interchangeable with the integrity of black masculinity,
Paul Gilroy writes, which must be regenerated at all costs.24 Again we
see what it looks like when women are a visual and corporeal necessity
but a logistical inconvenience. Like Rowes silent black woman, they are
mostly objects of articulation for men to write through.25 While I share
with Bentez-Rojo an interest in what happens when the ruptures of empire and slavery form the threading material of culture and identity, my
purpose here is to stay with the symbolic figure of this impact when she
is no longer just symbol, but subject. Mine, then, is an emphasis that
employs the photographic trace to retrieve women from the margins of
slaverys framing mechanisms.26
As James Elkins argues in The Object Stares Back, We prefer to have
bodies in front of us or in our hands, and if we cannot have them, we
continue to see them, as afterimages or ghosts.27 Therein lies the difficulty in attempting to wrest black women from the trace of the corporeal.
Where could they go without bringing the past along with them? Where
would we let them go without our perception of their bodies utility in
an ocular world? Part of the work of this book is to make legible the multiple enactments of hypervisibility black women cannot escape, and to
highlight artistic attempts at using opacity, framing, fragmentation, and
repetitions of the visual to illustrate a desire for black subjectivity that includes black women within it.
This project gathers at the intersection of literature and visual culture
studies, building on the work of Saidiya Hartman in Scenes of Subjection:
Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America, Avery Gordons
Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, and Christina
Sharpes Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Sharpes intervention in particular brings into focus many of the contemporary traces
remaining after slaverys demise that I also interrogate. Hartman and
Gordon measure the meaning of embodiment: how, in the words of
Hartman, its very fungibility is the key to envisioning black subjectivity
through its requisite deployments and representational iconographies.
The Repeating Body is a book informed by black feminist theory, visual

culture studies, literary criticism, and critical race theory. It is with this
determinedly interdisciplinary lens that I endeavor to investigate the phenomenon of black womens representational late contemporary restructuring. I am interested in Jennifer DeVere Brodys attendant portrayals of
grammatical structure and the traces of violence located in fictional narratives; Katherine McKittricks engagement with black women, bodies,
and the geographic resonance of space; Jenny Sharpes diasporic interrogation of narratives of resistance; and Jennifer L. Morgans analysis of
slaverys reproductive and reproducing mechanisms. Within this well-
established rubric of black feminism, I want to privilege the centrality of
the visual as a prevailing feature of black Atlantic literature, using contemporary visual culture as another way to engage this discourse.28
When Sethe allows others to see the scars on her back, she conceals
and reveals all at once. As she exposes her previous physical pain and
makes herself vulnerable and open to reading, she also obscures a visual
reading of her face. The corporeal refusal she enacts here engages in the
vernacular discourse of black Atlantic metaphoric communicating (I got
a tree on my back . . . Ive never seen it and never will).29 It is a call-and-
response interaction that reads (or allows others to read) the body and
its narrative.30 To refuse (by turning your back to someone) is to move
outside the realm of racial and corporeal familiarity and knowing. It is
to turn your back (refusing a full entrance into the frame) on those who
would propose to know you, to put mystery in the place of that knowing.
An emphasis of black feminist articulation gives us a totality of vision,
attuned to the visual properties of slaverys memory. The resonant echoes
of slaverys memory have a genealogy that is repetitive, and rituals and
gestures that are cadent and fluid. They allow us to see how black women
must occupy the center of the frame of a system that literally gave birth
to modernity. Slavery has ended, Avery Gordon writes, but something
of it continues to live on in the social geography of where people reside
. . . in the veins of the contradictory formation we call New World modernity.31 This contradictory formation masks the import of the very centrality (of black women and their bodies) organizing transatlantic slavery
and its resonant imprint.
To give birth to modernity is no small order, particularly if that very
act is considered a masculine feat, devoid of women. In one of Carrie Mae
Weemss more provocative examinations of creation, subjugation, and

the continuing conundrum of dna, she engages in a genealogical trace

that is historical, imagistic, and national. The fifth panel of the six-panel
series called The Jefferson Suite is the only one that includes a representation of both Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings as the foci of
the frame (figure I.1). Jeffersons quill pen draws the viewers eye to the
center of the frame, as it appears that he creates Hemings out of the recesses of some previous declarationover certain bodies, out of others.
While both subjects have their backs to the viewer, Jefferson is visualized
as someone who is free and open, intimated by the position of his arm
and the quill, the apparatus of his legibility. Weems-as-Hemings represents self-portraitures resurrecting possibilities within a black Atlantic
self-reflective imperative. She is a figure of both mystery and mastery.
Arms crossed in front and with her head facing the direction of a window
the viewer cannot see, the faint appearance of light the only indication
of a reprieve from total enclosure, Weems offers the slight inference of
a failure of communication between the two. Not just quill against gesture, Jefferson is illustrated as fully clothed while Hemingss shoulders
and arms are bare, an errant shoulder strap either absentmindedly or purposely drawn down, illustrating the framing mechanisms perspective of
choice. If, as Saidiya Hartman claims, the discourse of seduction obfuscates the primacy and extremity of violence in master-slave relations,
Weems-as-Hemings delineates this concept as a failure of the archive, or
an available archive that others refused to see.32
The Jefferson Suite illustrates racial ambiguity, merging it to the slave system Thomas Jefferson symbolized through rhetorical inconsistency, lust,
and lineage. Here, suite connotes an interior, private space where lovers
come together (hotel suite), a connected set of musical notes or chords,
or, as in its auditory configuration, a pleasing smell or taste (sweet). If
we think of The Jefferson Suite and the bodies presented as types collected
and cataloged like the human and animal possessions marked in Jeffersons famous Farm Book, the suite becomes an ironic play on words, the
sweetness dissipates. What remains, though, is the question of affect and
effect, the sentimental attachments of the visual and the familial and their
lingering imaginaries. Severing the viewers ocular comportment while
making malleable the corporeal dimensions of slaverys legacy, The Jefferson Suite contains the delineations of the evidentiary photograph, linking
it to past presidents and plantations, science, possession, and lineage.

I.1. Re-enactment of the Jefferson-Hemings Affair, Carrie Mae Weems, 2003.

Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery.

That Hemingss body is the text upon which democracy stands and
modernity forms allows Weems the ability to perform a postemancipation declaration of slave visibility. With her back turned to the viewer,
Jeffersons articulation, and the mismanagement of history, Weems-as-
Hemings seeks to interrogate the place of the known historical narrative and its always-embattled counterconstruction. Using Hemings and
her famous master as symbolic precursors to photographys duplicating
prerogatives, Weemss self-portrait underscores the contemporary obsession with dna as biological proof along with its concomitant imagery,
prephotographic temporally, but inferred with a force of visuality all its
own. To envision, then, slave subjectivity within the structure of slave
agency and limited mobility is to splice the narrative and reorganize it.
For this, a negotiation of word and image brings the body into focus,
brings history into the frame, and whether the work is literary or visual,
the pattern of repetition remains the same.
A repetition of corporeal refusal within the photographic frame sets
the visual trajectory in opposite motioncontrolled and taut, slowly releasing the narrative deployments of the visual and corporeal that are
often neglected. Weems fashions an archive out of the visibility of her
skin. She brings to the center of the frame a woman who would have been
relegated to the footnote of history had it not been for the insistence of
her archival embodiment. Her descendants ultimately provided the archive that now registers her legibility. Before that she was a ghost like
the fictional Beloveda haunting that marred the good name of the third
president of the United States.
In the sheer repetition of imagery associated with this one figure
(from William Wells Brown to Natasha Trethewey, Carrie Mae Weems,
and Robbie McCauley), there has been a refusal to forget, a refusal to
bend to the will of nearly two hundred years of fierce rhetorical denial.33
Sethe describes events like this to her daughter Denver as a thought picture that both is and is not. Instead, it is more like a collective event, like
when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else.34 If
we think of the afterimage as a violation of the gaze, the force that remains within, the repetition of this force creates a visual circle that can
seem unyielding. The afterimage as temporal motif, then, is the organizing mechanism suturing black women to the cultural narratives that have
been used to placate black Atlantic subjectivities in flux.

Symbolic of the corporeal register of subjectivities in flux, Mara

Magdalena Campos-Ponss When I Am Not Here/Estoy Alla (plate 1) envisions
a diaspora that is bilingual, black, female, and the end product of the
transatlantic slave trade. It is a representation of the riverain goddess Yemay, the traveling deity of reproduction, resurrection, and reckoning.
In the anonymity of the fragment there is also the imprint of a diasporic
return. This return is a frontal assault of corporeality and visuality, engaging the viewer in a layered construction of all that the image cannot
contain, and that which flows out from the body.
Sea waves envelop a womans body, fragmenting her form. From the
neckline through her waist she embodies the Atlantic Ocean, its organic
properties, and the mechanized reproduction (via the bottles of milk
draped around her neck) facilitated by and through slaverys birth and
rebirth. She occupies the bifocality of the black diaspora, the left and
right hemispheric alignment that locates itself on black womens bodies.
In the self-portrait other bodies enter the frame with Campos-Pons. They
slip in under the rubric of black Atlantic haunting. Since the image also
invokes the Middle Passage deity Yemay, there is an otherworldly element here that conflates the temporal demarcation of slaverys transmission. In the circular logic surrounding slaverys eternal return, oceans
meet bodies in flux and alter the trajectory, the sway, and the movement
of the transatlantic slave trade.
I am interested in the rhythm and the extension of this movement, in
the many disparate locations that allow it to glide through cartographies
of violence that though they were unspeakable . . . were not inexpressible.35 In the multiple temporal possibilities engendered by the production of slavery in the New World, I focus on those that hover as they drift,
a skulking metaphor for the past that is, according to Christina Sharpe,
not yet past.36 In doing so, I offer not a definitive and linear trajectory of cultural production in the Americas but instead a gathering of archival intent, that which places all of the conflations and displacements
of the visual at the center of contemporary engagements.37 I do this because studies of the black Atlantic and its subjectivities have always been
studies of visual culture(s), whether or not they have been received as


What can encompass this haunted house of empires and nations, this
transnational narrative of silence and strength hovering over representations of slavery in the United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil? Repetition. I have structured as a thematic production the repetitive qualities of the black Atlantic that hover somewhere between the past and the
present.39 Each chapter of The Repeating Body is informed by an aspect of
repetition that provides insight into the visual, material, and gendered
iterations of slaverys indelible memory.40 Whether it functions as afterimage, double exposure, hyperembodiment, or the ocular and auditory
meditation of a diasporic riff, repetition brings the figuration of slavery
into being with the force of modernity. This is a phenomenon of the contemporary and is particularly suited to explore and expand on slaverys
gendered modulations. For this reason I have incorporated multiple geographic locations, multiple genres of representation, and multiple repetitions of the ocular. I have also employed some textual repetitions and
duplicating extensions so that it is possible in this text that a novel like
Toni Morrisons Beloved, with its uncanny mutating abilities, will occupy
space in multiple chapters. In The Repeating Body, Morrisons novel becomes the threading text, a novel that painfully lays bare the reiterative
qualities of slaverys burdens.
The first chapter of the book positions repetition as afterimageas
the figurative register of what gets left over when the eye no longer has
the image before it. I begin by considering articulations of slave womens
sexual agency, particularly when these women are the mothers of both
slavery and freedom, giving birth to the children of slave masters. Specifically, I examine the place of whiteness moving through slave womens
bodies and the postmodern inversion of this phenomenon. In chapter 1,
Black Rapture: Corporeal Afterimage and Transnational Desire, I use
Mary Ann Doanes theory of the photographic afterimage and Saidiya
Hartmans critical engagement with the performative space of the plantation as a way to situate slave womens bodies as corporeal sites of memory wherein white men visit their patriarchal predecessors handiwork
in the bodies of their own slaves and yearn to make a mark of their own.
The afterimage is an ocular residue, a visual duplication as well as an
alteration. One could call it a burning image that eventually fades. And

that image is based on another, the one before the after of the image.
The myth of black womens sexual supremacy furthers this cause, as it
is precisely the marking of their flesh that serves as the racial coding to
the planter class, while making the intense violence of the system difficult to discern. As visual phenomena, afterimages represent slaverys profound ability to linger throughout the diaspora. They linger in the architectural structures built for the system to self-proliferate: landscapes of
myriad mechanical testaments to enslavement, the racial fetish of a bygone era, and family portraits illustrating the height and depth of property relationsinanimate and humanthat perpetuate the visuality of
Visual imagery becomes particularly useful here, solidifying representation and directing the trajectory of the discourse. This chapter juxtaposes contemporary artistic representations of Sally Hemings, Margaret
Garner, and Brazils Chica da Silva and concerns the visual positionality
these women enter. The imagistic lens of slavery confronts the space
whiteness occupies within repetitive sexualized violence. I examine narratives of nonbiological, familial connectivity crafted by artists who see
little space between the violations of the past and their present diasporic
bodies. Robbie McCauleys play Sallys Rape links the corporeal legacy
of her great-great-grandmother Sally with that of herself as well as the
Sally of Jefferson folklore. Faith Ringgold, in her thangka print Slave
Rape Series, challenges the anonymity of sexually exploited slave women
by marking the canvas with her own image as a pregnant slave woman
fleeing a lascivious overseer.
In the after of these images, there is the temporal instability that
weaves the past onto the present, visually representing a conflation of
imagery writ across time. In this book I attend to the contemporary negotiation of slavery that tethers itself to the world of the visual.41 It is within
the realm of repetition, its looping and determined return, that black
Atlantic subjectivities are able, in all of their profound and disparate invectives, to be seen.
To be seen. Double vision and sight conspire here, in this space of insistent recognition, the ocular comportment of engagement. Rendered as
simultaneously hypervisible and invisible, black women function within
the register of externally imposed enclosures. What is it that brings the
event of slavery out of the archive and into the plain sight of the late con14Introduction

temporary? What tethers its import, its tendency to reverberate into the
twentieth and twenty-first centuries? In slaverys heightened visible register, gender delineates the force and future repetition of the usable corpus, a double marking that has reverberations throughout and beyond
the Americas. They tell us how to see the beneath and beyond of the system of slavery, the visions and revisions fueling poetry, fiction, and
visual art practices. The afterimage here occupies the space of stubborn
insistence and transcultural haunting, the pathos of diaspora.
Chapter 2, Fragmented Figurations of the Maternal, presents repetition as the double exposure of the black diaspora, as the suture between production, reproduction, and counterproduction. The concept
of double exposure (as I am articulating it here) structures violent and
discordant interactions within the contemporary as continually fraught
with the tonal frequencies of slaverys remains. Repetition functions as
and through this bifocality, a layering of contingent imagery embodying
both sight and sound.
In this chapter I argue that processes of black maternal longing limit
the ability of black women to self-possess; this is a disjuncture that artists
highlight through fragmentation, sectioning off parts of black womens
bodies (and often their own) imagistically to mark the collective parsing out of black maternal capacities. This is always negotiated through
a cultural reinforcement of surrogate mothering or, to use Patricia Hill
Collinss term, othermothering. Along with the collective request that
black women participate in repetitions of maternal sacrifice, there are
representations that challenge the siphoning of black womens power
through the maternal, literally marking the place of maternal dependence
and visual impossibility.
In the synesthetic quality of this productive deployment, visual and
auditory impulses converge, performing through the matter and the
mode of the black Atlantic. The question of racial terror, writes Paul
Gilroy, always remains in view when these modernisms are discussed
because imaginative proximity to terror is their inaugural experience.42
Within this inaugural experience are the pace and proximity of the
black maternal, the mode and manner of its diasporic iteration. Bound
to this iteration of the diaspora, repetition as reproduction offers us improvisation and agitation, movement within the visuality of maternal retrieval and within a constant state of loss. Utilizing a flood of imagery

associated with black womens conflicted maternity, I emphasize the role

of fragmentation in illuminating the ruptured nature of postslavery maternal processes.
Chapter 3, The Boundaries of Excess, deploys the visual register of
hyperembodiment and disembodiment in order to investigate the ever-
expansive corporeal tether that binds black women to the framework of
slaverys making. Here I use visual shielding and the gender transference
of slave womens bodies as a way to read the corporeal trajectory of diasporic movement and loss as a narrative of excess. This chapter looks
at artistic representations of physical prowess in American abolitionist
Harriet Tubman and Brazilian slave deity Blessed Anastcia. I argue that
certain historical figures of the black Atlantic are symbolic body armor
and are portrayed as such; their representations are created to serve as virtual/visual protection to black masses. For Tubman, this is done through
rhetoric and rifle, as literary and visual images reinforce a hypermasculine performance of collective protection. Fred DAguiars novel Feeding
the Ghosts imagines the male historical survivor of the throwing overboard
from the slave ship Zong as a woman who climbs back onto the ship after
being tossed off and subsequently plans an insurrection. Hyperembodiment and disembodiment extend the visuality of the boundary between
utility and excessive use, delineating the marker of black womens corporeal availability as continually shifting beyond and beneath the horizon of
the grand spectacle that is slaverys contemporary representation.
The final chapter, The Return: Conjuring the Figure, Following the
Form, concerns the materiality of the event of slavery that seeps through
cultural productions of the black diaspora with force. In the tumultuous
rendering of both subject and object, slavery creates/anticipates the Du
Boisian structure of double-consciousness that, had it a visual register,
would always be photographic. The stereograph, a photographic image
popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, intimates
this doubling with slant repetition. It is the mechanism that mimics
both the eye and the ear, pairs of visual and auditory encompassing that
function as a methodology for survival. This survival engenders a future
fraught with slaverys duplication: formerly enslaved people who are not
yet free, and whose freedom bears the violence, marginality, and hypervisibility of slaverys tether. To step out of the shadow of slavery in the
contemporary means gazing back onto the haunting of its varied past.

It is an event that is always invoking, always evoking. And like any other
haunting, it has the desire to be seen.
In this final chapter I prioritize the matter of diaspora, the dependent methodology of the black Atlantic that taps into the bare survival of
others in order to highlight the liminal status of both the enslaved and
the marginally free. This bare survival deepens the discourse of the ocular that slavery manipulated; it is a large part of the reason black women
still exist under a rubric of repeated and excessive use. Here, I focus on
iterations of ethereal haunting in literature, imbued with a hyperdependence on black womens resurrecting qualities. Mystics, preachers, and
god figures maintain the black diasporic space between the living and the
dead and drift in out of the black Atlantic imaginary as purposeful martyrs negotiating their place within a structured narrative of what Avery
Gordon calls ghostly matters.
Standing between Western productions of stasis and movement,
slavery ruptures a linear trajectory in favor of flux: the flux of subjectivity,
of permeability, and the flux of protection and possession. Literal movement places the body in a position of external whim, coercion, force, and
self-theft. If, as many critical race and slavery studies scholars assert,
black Atlantic subjectivities force an engagement with death that is repetitive and unrelenting, these engagements survive off of the riff and the
motif of New World slavery.43 In the contemporary there can be no accounting for the total enclosure of slavery and its aftermath without being
attuned to the aural and imagistic mandates that locate themselves at the
site of the event. There can be no telling of this story without making black
women central, no way to see the indexical force of the horrendous event
of transnational slavery unless the way of seeing, the sight and the sound
of it, is rearticulated and black women are at the center of the frame.
Sethes created recollecting, her rememory, mirrors Rowes internal mandate (from The Cattle Killing) to remember everything, placing
the event that is slavery and its afterlife at the center of a visual and corporeal retrieval. For this retrieval to reach its fullest invocation we must
pay close attention to what black female artists are showing us, how, in
the words of Anne Cheng, we do not master by seeing; we are ourselves
altered when we look.44 I hope The Repeating Body works within the vein
of the camera lucida, allowing multiple vantage points through which to
layer slaverys recurring and repeating visions.


Introduction. Visualizing the Body of the Black Atlantic

1. Audre Lorde, Afterimages, in Collected Poems (New York: Norton, 2000), 339.
2. Lorde, Afterimages, 339.
3. Lorde, Afterimages, 339.
4. Fred Moten, Black Monin, in Loss: The Politics of Mourning (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 64.
5. Moten, Black Monin, 6263.
6. Lorde, Afterimages, 339.
7. Lorde, Afterimages, 33941.
8. Mamie Till-Mobley (19212003), after the murder of her son, Emmett Till,
insisted upon publishing postmortem photographs (most famously in Jet magazine) and having an open-casket funeral for Till, stating, I want the world to see
what they did to my boy. This insistence upon the indexical evidence of her sons
mutilated body contributed to the already-present outrage concerning the gruesome, racially motivated murder. Till-Mobleys inability to receive justice in the
space of the law is illustrated in the title of Gwendolyn Brookss poem A Brownesville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon.
9. I, too, am the afterlife of slavery, Saidiya Hartman writes in Lose Your Mother:
A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007),
6. This afterlife has a past and a past tense, a forward haunting and a resurrection.
Lorde, Afterimages, 33941.
10. Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of
Struggle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 33; Toni Morrison,
The Site of Memory, in Inventing the Truth, ed. William Zinsser (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995), 91.
11. Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds, 33.
12. Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 71.

13. In her poem Memory and Resistance, the Afro-Uruguayan poet Cristina Cabral writes, Sometimes legend reminds me / But never history. Cristina
Cabral, Memory and Resistance, in Daughters of the Diaspora: Afra-Hispanic Writers,
ed. Miriam DeCosta-Willis (Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2003), 396.
14. John Edgar Wideman, The Cattle Killing (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996), 63.
15. Wideman, Cattle Killing, 66.
16. Wideman, Cattle Killing, 66.
17. Wideman, Cattle Killing, 66.
18. Wideman, Cattle Killing, 66.
19. Wideman, Cattle Killing, 66.
20. Doane, Emergence of Cinematic Time, 74, 76.
21. Hortense Spillers, Mamas Baby, Papas Maybe: An American Grammar
Book, Diacritics 17, no. 2 (summer 1987): 65, 67.
22. The patient cannot remember the whole of what is repressed in him,
Sigmund Freud writes in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, stating, What he cannot remember may be precisely the essential part of it. In Morrisons Beloved, the
improvisational space of re-created memories, or rememory, privileges a collective accounting and rearticulating rather than a clinical or individual remembering.
Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in The Freud Reader, ed. Peter Gay
(New York: Norton, 1989), 602.
23. Antonio Benitez-Rojo, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 5.
24. Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 194.
25. These men writing through include Gabriel Garca Mrquez, Nicholas
Guillen, Fernando Ortiz, and Alejo Carpentier.
26. Mitochondrial dna is almost exclusively inherited through the maternal
line in mammals. Though my study is not scientific, it is purposely invoking a genealogical trace (that I read photographically) in order to bring black women into
the center of the framework of slaverys memory. I am also interested here in what
happens to the offspring of this violation when the offspring is also female. The
Repeating Island follows the forceful reproduction of a Caribbean subjectivity, one
that is curiously imagined as a female vessel producing male subjectivities in flux.
27. James Elkins, The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing (New York: Harcourt,
1996), 132.
28. Nicholas Mirzoeff writes, The deployment of visuality and visual technologies as a Western social technique for ordering was decisively shaped by the experience of plantation slavery in the Americas, forming the plantation complex of
visuality. Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Durham,
NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 48.
29. Toni Morrison, Beloved (New York: Plume, 1987), 1516.

196Notes to Introduction

30. From our very first introduction to the scar on Sethes back, Sandy Alexandre asserts, we already begin to hear how conversations surrounding the scar
suggest that it does not belong so much to Sethe alone as it does to everyone else
who has better viewing access to it. Because the scar is on Sethes back, she never
actually gets to see it herself; she alone experiences the pain associated with having
acquired the scar, but after that scene of subjection, she neither has the authority
nor the ability to describe how that scar has exactly ensconced itself on her back.
Sandy Alexandre, The Properties of Violence: Claims to Ownership in Representations of Lynching (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012), 131.
31. Such endings that are not over is what haunting is about, she writes. Avery
Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 139.
32. Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in
Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 81.
33. These artistic repetitions take on multiple genres: a novel, a poem, a photograph, and a play, respectively.
34. Morrison, Beloved, 36.
35. Gilroy, Black Atlantic, 73.
36. Christina Sharpe, Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Durham,
NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 26.
37. My readings will investigate the absence of slavery as a traumatic event in
the transnational imaginary. As it has developed in the United States and Europe
since the 1980s, trauma theory (see: Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, and Marianne Hirsch) has had a necessary connection to the event of the Holocaust. This
emphasis has moved the discourse of slavery even further out of the framework of
possible trauma theory applications, and made it more difficult to imagine (despite
all of the evidence provided by critical race theorists) slavery as a traumatic event.
38. I take as an example of this Saidiya Hartmans Scenes of Subjection (1997).
These scenes that she lays out in the text are multimodal and heavily performative. They locate an ocular investment at the critical crux between subjectivity and
39. Articulating a move that both imbibes Sigmund Freuds repetition compulsion and creates a sonic space of black Atlantic performative splicing, James A.
Snead argues that repetition in black culture finds its most characteristic shape in
performance: rhythm in music, dance, and language. I would add visual culture
to this demarcation as well, as artists (literary, visual) continue to riff on disparate
moments and events from the black diaspora that they cannot or will not forget.
James A. Snead, Repetition as a Figure of Black Culture, in Black Literature and Literary Theory, ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (New York: Methuen, 1987), 68.
40. I register these repetitions as containing the trace of the photographic
that allows for a multigenred articulation of slaverys residual markings.

Notes to Introduction197

41. The world of the visual as I delineate it for this project, is one that has sensorial properties that though they move beyond the realm of visuality (that which
can be seen), still conform to an ocular comportment, placing race and gender (that
which must be discerned) at the center.
42. Gilroy, Black Atlantic, 73.
43. See Vincent Browns book The Reapers Garden: Death and Power in the World of
Atlantic Slavery (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010); Jennifer L. Morgans Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Mary Francis Berry and John Blassingames
Long Memory: The Black Experience in America; Deborah Gray Whites Arnt I a Woman:
Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York: Norton, 1985); Paula Giddingss When
and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: William
Morrow, 1984); Marcus Woods Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in Eng
land and America 17801865 (New York: Routledge, 2000); David Blights Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
2001); Stephanie Smallwoods Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American
Diaspora (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Hilary Beckless Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Women in Barbados (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers
University Press, 1989); Barbara Bushs Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 16501838
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); Jacqueline Joness Labor of Love, Labor
of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic
Books, 1985); and David Brion Daviss Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in
the New World.
44. Anne Anlin Cheng, Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2011), 21.

1. Black Rapture: Corporeal Afterimage and Transnational Desire

1. Zahid Chaudhary argues that there is something deeply directive . . . about
certain juxtapositions of images. These juxtapositions formulate the suture between the empire and the bodies it hopes to conquer. Zahid Chaudhary, Afterimage
of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 54.
2. Gayl Jones, Corregidora (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), 60.
3. Christina Sharpe, Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Durham,
NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 60.
4. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Ursa refers to the northern constellation of stars called the Great Bear, as well as one whose sign or symbol is a
bear. Corrige is an Old English word for correct or chastise.
5. Sharpe, Monstrous Intimacies, 31.

198Notes to Chapter One