Black Women¶s Bodies under Colonialism and Slavery

G104 ± Representing Black Women in Popular Culture October 2, 2008

Jennifer L. Morgan s Contributions to Gender & Sexuality Scholarship
‡ Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, 2004 ‡ Teaches History and Women s and Gender Studies at Rutger s University, New Brunswick. ‡ Interdisciplinary approach to scholarship on blackness (American Studies, American History, Gender Studies, Women s Studies, African American Studies) ‡ Gender central to racism ‡ Black women central to nationbuilding

What Morgan says . . .
‡ Not until the gaze of European travelers fell upon them would African women see themselves, or indeed one another, as defined by racial characteristics (12). ‡ Travelers used black women s bodies to mark the boundaries of European national identities and white supremacy (15). ‡ Creates and constructs an other against white femininity. ‡ Justifies racial heriarchy.

1590 Amerindian bodies appeared like the bodies of ancient Greek statues.

Left: 1590 Amerindian bodies appeared like the bodies of ancient Greek statues. Right: 1592 Indians appear as cannibals. A means of promoting the savage stereotype?

Morgan argues that over-the-shoulder breast feeding became symbolic of the African continent. In other words, colonization of the land and explicitly sexualization of black women s bodies was justified due to the primitivistic savagery of its inhabitants.