Saartjie Baartman

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For the South African patrol vessel, see Sarah Baartman (ship).
Saartjie Baartman
La Belle Hottentot.jpg
La Belle Hottentot, a 19th-century French print of Baartman
Born 1789[1]
Near Gamtoos River, Eastern Cape, Dutch Cape Colony
Died 29 December 1815 (aged 25–26)
Paris, France
Resting place Vergaderingskop, Hankey, Eastern Cape, South Africa
33°50′14″S 24°53′05″E / 33.8372°S 24.8848°E / -33.8372; 24.8848Coordinates: 33°50′14″S 24°53′05″E / 33.8372°S 24.8848°E / -33.8372; 24.8848
Other names Hottentot Venus
Ethnicity Khoikhoi

Saartjie "Saartje" "Sara" "Sarah" Baartman (before 1790 – 29 December 1815)[1] (also spelled Bartman, Bartmann, Baartmen) was the most well known of at least two[2] Khoikhoi women who, due to their large buttocks (steatopygia), were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—"Hottentot" was the then current name for the Khoi people, now considered an offensive term,[3] and "Venus" referred to the Roman goddess of love.

Life[edit]

Saartjie Baartman (more commonly known as Sarah or Sara Baartman) was born in the 1770s in the Gamtoos Valley of South Africa. In 1810, she went to England with her employer, a free black man (a Cape designation for someone of slave descent) called Hendrik Cesars, and William Dunlop a Scottish doctor at the Cape slave lodge.[4] They sought to show her for money on the London stage. Sara Baartman spent four years on stage in England and Ireland. Early on, her treatment on the Picadilly stage caught the attention of British abolitionists, who argued that her performance was indecent and that she was being forced to perform against her will. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of her exhibition after Dunlop produced a contract made between himself and Baartman. It is doubtful that this contract was valid: it was probably produced for the purposes of the trial.[4][5] Cesars left the show and Dunlop continued to display Baartman in country fairs. Baartman also moved to Manchester where she was baptized as Sarah Bartmann. In 1814, after Dunlop's death, a man called Henry Taylor brought Baartman to Paris. He sold her to an animal trainer, S. Reaux, who made her amuse onlookers who frequented the Palais-Royal. Georges Cuvier, founder and professor of comparative anatomy at the Museum of Natural History examined Baartman as he searched for proof of a so-called missing link between animals and human beings. Baartman's body became the foundation for racist science. Baartman lived in poverty, and died in Paris of an undetermined inflammatory disease in December 1815. After her death, Cuvier dissected her body, and displayed her remains. For more than a century and a half, visitors to the Museum of Man in Paris could view her brain, skeleton and genitalia as well as a plaster cast of her body. Her remains were returned to South Africa in 2002 and she was buried in the Eastern Cape on South Africa's Women's Day.[6][7]

Early life in South Africa[edit]

Sara Baartman was born to a Khoisan family in the vicinity of the Gamtoos River in what is now the Eastern Cape of South Africa, on land taken over by Dutch farmers.[3] Her father was killed by Bushmen while driving cattle.[8] Saartjie is the diminutive form of Sara; in Cape Dutch the use of the diminutive form commonly indicated familiarity, endearment or contempt. Her birth name is unknown.[7]

Baartman spent her childhood and teenage years on settler farms. She went through puberty rites, and kept the small tortoise shell necklace, probably given to her by her mother, until her death in France. In the 1790s, a free black (the Cape designation for individuals of enslaved descent) trader named Peter Cesars met her and encouraged her to move to Cape Town, which had recently come under British control. Records do not show whether she was made to leave, or went willingly, or was sent by her family to Cesars. She lived in Cape Town for at least two years working in households as a washerwoman and a nursemaid, first for Peter Cesars, then in the house of a Dutch man in Cape Town. She moved finally to be a wet-nurse in the household of Peter Cesars' brother-in-law, Hendrik Cesars, outside of Cape Town in present day Woodstock.[9][10] Sara Baartman lived alongside slaves in the Cesars' household. As someone of Khoisan descent she could not be formally enslaved, but probably lived in conditions similar to slaves in Cape Town. There is evidence that she had two children, though both died as babies. She had a relationship with a poor European military man, Hendrik Van Jong, who lived in Hout Bay near Cape Town, but the relationship ended when his regiment left the Cape.[6] William Dunlop, a Scottish military surgeon in the Cape slave lodge, with a sideline in supplying showmen in Britain with animal specimens, suggested she travel to England to make money by exhibition. Baartman refused. Dunlop persisted and Sara Baartman said she would only go if Hendrik Cesars came too. He also refused, but became ever more in debt in part because of unfavorable lending terms because of his status as free black. Finally, in 1810 he agreed to go to England to make money through putting Sara Baartman on stage. The party left for London in 1810. We cannot say if Sara Baartman went willingly or was forced, but she was not in a position to refuse outright.[6]

Dunlop was the mover and shaker behind the plan to exhibit Sara Baartman: According to an English law report of 26 November 1810, an affidavit supplied to the Court of King's Bench from a "Mr. Bullock of Liverpool Museum" stated: "some months since a Mr. Alexander Dunlop, who, he believed, was a surgeon in the army, came to him sell the skin of a Camelopard, which he had brought from the Cape of Good Hope...Some time after, Mr. Dunlop again called on Mr. Bullock, and told him, that he had then on her way from the Cape, a female Hottentot, of very singular appearance; that she would make the fortune of any person who shewed her in London, and that he (Dunlop) was under an engagement to send her back in two years..."[11] Lord Caledon, governor of the Cape, gave permission for the trip, but later said regretted it after he fully learned the purpose of the trip.[12]

On show in Great Britain[edit]

A caricature of Baartman drawn in the early 19th century
Baartman's exhibition poster in London

Hendrik Cesars and Alexander Dunlop brought Baartman to London in 1810.[13] The group lived together in Duke Street, St. James the most expensive part of London. In the household were Sara Baartman, Hendrik Cesars, Alexander Dunlop, and two African boys, probably brought illegally by Dunlop from the slave lodge in Cape Town.[6]

Dunlop was the organizer of the exhibition, and Cesars the showman. Dunlop exhibited Baartman in the Egyptian Hall of Piccadilly Circus on November 24, 1810.[14] Dunlop thought he could make money because of Londoners' lack of familiarity with Africans and because of Baartman's large bottom. Crais and Scully say: "People came to see her because they saw her not as a person but as a pure example of this one part of the natural world".[15] A handwritten note made on an exhibition flyer by someone who saw Baartman in London in January 1811 indicates curiosity about her origins and probably reproduced some of the language from the exhibition, thus the origin story should be treated with skepticism: "Sartjee is 22 Years old is 4 feet 10 Ins high, and has (for an Hottentot) a good capacity. She lived in the occupation of a Cook at the Cape of Good Hope. Her Country is situated not less than 600 Miles from the Cape the Inhabitants of which are rich in Cattle and sell them by barter for a mere trifle, A Bottle of Brandy, or small roll of Tobacco will purchase several Sheep – Their principal trade is in Cattle Skins or Tallow. – Beyond this Nation is an other, of small stature, very subtle & fierce; the Dutch could not bring them under subjection, and shot them whenever they found them. 9th Jany. 1811. [H.C.?]"[16] The tradition of freak shows was longstanding in Britain at this time, and historians have argued that this is at first how Baartman was displayed.[9] Baartman never allowed herself to be exhibited nude [17] and an account of her appearance in London in 1810 makes it clear that she was wearing a garment, albeit a tight-fitting one.[18]

Her exhibition in London just a few years after the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807 created a scandal. This is in part because British audiences misread Hendrik Cesars, thinking he was a Dutch farmer, boer, from the frontier. Scholars have tended to reproduce that error, but tax rolls at the Cape show he was free black.[19] Violence was part of the show. An abolitionist benevolent society called the African Association conducted a newspaper campaign for her release. Zachary Macaulay led the protest. Hendrik Cesars protested that Baartman was entitled to earn her living, stating: "has she not as good a right to exhibit herself as an Irish Giant or a Dwarf?"[7] Cesars was comparing Baartman to the contemporary Irish giants Charles Byrne and Patrick Cotter O'Brien.[14] Macaulay and The African Association took the matter to court and on November 24, 1810 at the Court of King's Bench the Attorney-General began the attempt "to give her liberty to say whether she was exhibited by her own consent." In support he produced two affidavits in court. The first, from a Mr Bullock of Liverpool Museum, was intended to show Baartman had been brought to Britain by persons who referred to her as if she were property. The second, by the Secretary of the African Association, described the degrading conditions under which she was exhibited and also gave evidence of coercion.[18] Baartman was then questioned before an attorney in Dutch, in which she was fluent, via interpreters. However the conditions of the interview were stacked against her, in part again because the court saw Hendrik Cesars as the boer exploiter, rather than seeing Alexander Dunlop as the organizer. They thus ensured that Cesars was not in the room when Baartman made her statement, but Dunlop was allowed to remain.

Historians have stated that this therefore casts great doubt on the veracity and independence of the statement that Baartman then made.[20] She stated that she in fact was not under restraint, did not get sexually abused, and that she came to London on her own free will.[14] She also did not wish to return to her family and understood perfectly that she was guaranteed half of the profits. The case was therefore dismissed.[21] She was questioned for three hours. The statements directly contradict accounts of her exhibitions made by Zachary Macaulay of the African Institution and other eyewitnesses.[17] A written contract was produced,[22] which is considered by some modern commentators to be a legal subterfuge.[6][7][9]

The publicity given by the court case increased Baartman's popularity as an exhibit.[7] She later toured other parts of England and was exhibited at a fair in Limerick, Ireland in 1812. She also was exhibited at a fair at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.[9] On 1 December 1811 Baartman was baptized at Manchester Cathedral and there is evidence that she was married on the same day.[23][24]

Later life in France[edit]

Baartman, pictured next to a chair and a goura

A man called Henry Taylor took Sara Baartman to France, from around September 1814. Taylor then sold her to an animal trainer, S. Réaux, who exhibited her under more pressured conditions for fifteen months at the Palais Royal. In France she was in effect enslaved. In Paris, her exhibition became more clearly entangled with scientific racism. French scientists were curious about whether she had the elongated labia which earlier naturalists such such as François Levaillant had purportedly observed in Khoisan at the Cape.[25] French naturalists, among them Georges Cuvier, head keeper of the menagerie at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle,and founder of the discipline of comparative anatomy visited her. She was the subject of several scientific paintings at the Jardin du Roi, where she was examined in March 1815: as Saint-Hilaire[26] and Frédéric Cuvier, a younger brother of Georges, reported, "she was obliging enough to undress and to allow herself to be painted in the nude." This was not literally true: although by his standards she appeared to be naked, in accordance with her own cultural norms of modesty[27] throughout these sessions she wore a small apron-like garment which concealed her genitalia. She steadfastly refused to remove this even when offered money by one of the attending scientists.[7][28] In Paris, Baartman's promoters didn't need to concern themselves with slavery charges. Crais and Scully state: "By the time she got to Paris, her existence was really quite miserable and extraordinarily poor. Sara was literally treated like an animal. There is some evidence to suggest that at one point a collar was placed around her neck."[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Baartman died on 29 December 1815 of an undetermined[29] inflammatory ailment, possibly smallpox,[30][31] while other sources suggest she contracted syphilis,[3] or pneumonia. Cuvier conducted a dissection, but did not do an autopsy to inquire into the reasons for Baartman's death.[6]

French anatomist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville published notes on the dissection in 1816, which were republished by Georges Cuvier in the Memoires du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in 1817. Cuvier, who had met Baartman, notes in his monograph that its subject was an intelligent woman with an excellent memory, particularly for faces. In addition to her native tongue, she spoke fluent Dutch, passable English, and a smattering of French. He describes her shoulders and back as "graceful", arms "slender", hands and feet as "charming" and "pretty". He adds she was adept at playing the jew's harp,[32] could dance according to the traditions of her country, and had a lively personality.[33] Despite this, Cuvier interpreted her remains, in accordance with his theories on racial evolution, as evidencing ape-like traits. He thought her small ears were similar to those of an orangutan and also compared her vivacity, when alive, to the quickness of a monkey.[7]

Saartjie Baartman's grave, on a hill overlooking Hankey in the Gamtoos River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa

From the 1940s, there were sporadic calls for the return of her remains. A poem written in 1978 by Diana Ferrus, herself of Khoisan descent, entitled "I've come to take you home", played a pivotal role in spurring the movement to bring Baartman's remains back to her birth soil.[3] The case gained world-wide prominence only after Stephen Jay Gould wrote The Mismeasure of Man in the 1980s. Mansell Upham, a researcher and jurist specializing in South African colonial history also helped spur the movement to bring Baartman's remains back to South Africa.[6] After the victory of the African National Congress in the South African general election, 1994, President Nelson Mandela formally requested that France return the remains. After much legal wrangling and debates in the French National Assembly, France acceded to the request on 6 March 2002. Her remains were repatriated to her homeland, the Gamtoos Valley, on 6 May 2002[34] and they were buried on 9 August 2002 on Vergaderingskop, a hill in the town of Hankey over 200 years after her birth.[35]

Baartman became an icon in South Africa as representative of many aspects of the nation's history. The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children,[36] a refuge for survivors of domestic violence, opened in Cape Town in 1999. South Africa's first offshore environmental protection vessel, the Sarah Baartman, is also named after her.[37]

Symbolism[edit]

However, Sarah Baartman is not the only Khoekhoe to be taken from her homeland. Her story is always used as a symbol to illustrate various social and political strains, and through these applications, her true story has been lost among the discussions. Dr. Yvette Abraham, professor of women and gender studies at the University of the Western Cape says, “we lack academic studies that view Sarah Baartman as anything other than a symbol. Her story becomes marginalized, as it is always used to illustrate some other topic….” For some reason, Baartman is always employed to represent African discrimination and suffering in the West, even though there were many other Khoekhoe people who were taken to Europe. For example, Historian Neil Parsons writes about two Khoekhoe children of 13 and 6 who were taken from South Africa and displayed at a holiday fair in Elberfeld, Germany, 1845. Secondly, a traveling show called the Bosjemans traveled around Britain, Ireland, and France, consisting of two men, women, and one baby. The circus was in business from 1846 to 1855. Thirdly, P.T. Barnum’s show, called “Little People”, advertised a 16 year old girl by the name of Flora as the “missing link” and acquired six more Khoekhoe children after her. These are just some of the cases of Khoekhoe Africans who were enslaved and put on display in the West. There may be some reason as to why Baartman’s tale is so famous. She was the first Khoekhoe to be taken from her homeland. However, instead of being the first, it is most likely that her fame is due to the extensive exploitation of her body by the general public and scientists such as Georges Cuvier, as well as the horrible mistreatment she received during and after her life. She was brought to the West solely on the premise of her exaggerated female form, and the European public found a sickening obsession with her reproductive organs. Her body parts were on display at the Musee de l’Homme for 150 years, and her story as a symbol may be due to the awareness and sympathy it has evoked in the public eye. Even though Baartman was the first Khoekhoe to land in Europe, much of her story has been lost, and she is instead defined by her tragic utilization and exploitation in the West.[38]

Her body as a foundation for scientific racism[edit]

Illustration of Baartman from Illustrations de Histoire naturelle des mammifères

Baartman's body was the foundation for scientific racism. Cuvier used her body to create a borderline between the "abnormal" African woman and "normal" European woman. He used her buttocks as the salient feature in casting her as savage.

1810 caricature of Baartman by William Heath

Julien-Joseph Virey used Sarah Baartman's published image to validate racial typologies. In his essay, "Dictionnaire des sciences medicales" (Dictionary of medical sciences), he summarizes the true nature of the black female within the framework of accepted medical discourse. Virey focused on identifying her sexual organs as more developed and distinct in comparison to white female organs. All of his theories regarding sexual primitivism are influenced and supported by the anatomical studies and illustrations of Sarah Baartman which were created by Georges Cuvier.[39] In cartoons and drawings Baartman's features were often exaggerated to highlight her difference from European females. This social construction of visual imagery likely amplified and reinforced racist perspectives. Little of this knowledge can be considered completely factual as most knowledge of Baartman is not extrapolated from diverse sources of documentation.[citation needed]

Sexism[edit]

During 1814–70, there were at least seven scientific descriptions of the bodies of women of color done in comparative anatomy. Cuvier's dissection of Baartman helped shape European science. Baartman, along with several other African women who were dissected, were referred to as Hottentots, or sometimes Bushwomen. The "savage woman" was seen as very distinct from the "civilised female" of Europe, thus nineteenth century scientists were fascinated by "the Hottentot Venus".[14] In the 1800s, people in London were able to pay two shillings apiece to gaze upon her body in wonder. Baartman was considered a freak of nature. For extra pay, one could even poke her with a stick or finger.[6] Sara Baartman's organs, genitalia and buttocks were thought to be evidence of her sexual primitivism and intellectual equality with that of an orangutan.[28]

Colonialism[edit]

There has been much speculation and study about colonialist influence that relates to Saartjie Baartman's name, social status, her illustrated and performed presentation as the "Hottentot Venus", and the negotiation for her body's return to her homeland.[6][7] These components and events in Baartman's life have been used by activists and theorists to determine the ways in which 19th century European colonists exercised control and authority over Khoekhoe people and simultaneously crafted racist and sexist ideologies about their culture.[40] In addition to this, recent scholars have begun to analyze the surrounding events leading up to Baartman's return to her homeland and conclude that it is an expression of recent contemporary post colonial objectives.[7]

In Janet Shibamoto's book review of Deborah Cameron's book Feminism and Linguistic Theory, Shibamoto discusses Cameron's study on the patriarchal context within language, which consequentially influences the way in which women continue to be contained by or subject to ideologies created by the patriarchy.[41] Many scholars have presented information on how Baartman's life was heavily controlled and manipulated by colonialist and patriarchal language.[28]

Saartjie Baartman grew up on a colonialist farm. There is no historical documentation of her indigenous Khoisan name.[42] She was given the Dutch name 'Saartjie' by Dutch colonialists who occupied the land she lived on during her childhood. According to Clifton Crais and Pamela Scully:

Her first name is the Cape Dutch form for "Sarah" which marked her as a colonialist's servant. "Saartje" the diminutive, was also a sign of affection. Encoded in her first name were the tensions of affection and exploitation. Her surname literally means "bearded man" in Dutch. It also means uncivilized, uncouth, barbarous, savage. Saartjie Baartman – the savage servant.[43]

Dutch colonizers also bestowed the term "Hottentot", which is derived from "hot" and "tot"; Dutch approximations of common sounds in the Khoi language.[44] The Dutch used this word when referencing Khoikhoi people because of the clicking sounds and staccato pronunciations that characterize the Khoikhoi language; these components of the Khoikhoi language were considered strange and "bestial" to Dutch colonizers.[7] The term was used until the 20th century, at which point most people understood its effect as a derogatory term.[45]

Travelogues that circulated in Europe would describe Africa as being "uncivilized" and lacking regard for religious virtue.[7] Travelogues and imagery depicting Black women as "sexually primitive" and "savage" enforced the belief that it was in Africa's best interest to be colonized by European settlers. Cultural and religious conversion was considered to be an altruistic act with imperialist undertones; colonizers believed that they were reforming and correcting Khoisan culture in the name of the Christian faith and empire.[7]

During the lengthy negotiation to have Baartman's body returned to her home country after her death, the assistant curator of Musee de l'homme, Philippe Mennecier argued against her return stating: "we never know what science will be able to tell us in the future. If she is buried, this chance will be lost ... for us she remains a very important treasure." According to Sadiah Qureshi, due to the continued treatment of Baartman's body as a cultural artifact, Philippe Mennecier's statement is contemporary evidence of the same type of ideology that surrounded Saartjie Baartman's body while she was alive in the 18th century.[7]

Feminist Reception[edit]

Traditional iconography of Sarah Baartman and feminist contemporary art[edit]

Many African female diasporic artists have criticized the traditional iconography of Saartjie Baartman. According to the studies of contemporary feminists, traditional iconography and historical illustrations of Baartman are effective in revealing the ideological representation of black women in art throughout history. Such studies assess how the traditional iconography of the black female body was institutionally and scientifically defined in the nineteenth century.[39]

Renee Cox, Renee Green, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Cara Mae Weems and Deborah Willis are artists who seek to investigate contemporary social and cultural issues that still surround the African female body. Sander Gilman, a cultural and literary historian states: "While many groups of African Blacks were known to Europeans in the nineteenth century, the Hottentot remained representative of the essence of the Black, especially the Black female. Both concepts fulfilled the iconographic function in the perception and representation of the world."[39] His article "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in the Late Nineteenth Century Art, Medicine and Literature", traces art historical records of black women in European art, and also proves that the association of black women with concupiscence within art history has been illustrated consistently since the beginning of the Middle Ages.[39]

Lyle Ashton Harris and Renee Valerie Cox worked in collaboration to produce the photographic piece Hottentot Venus 2000. In this piece, Harris photographs Victoria Cox who presents herself as Baartman while wearing large, sculptural, gold, metal breasts and buttocks attached to her body.[46] According to Deborah Willis, the paraphernalia attached to Cox's body are markers for the way in which Baartman's sexual body parts were essential for her constructed role or function as the 'Hottentot Venus.' Willis also explains that Cox's side angle shot makes reference to the 'scientific' traditional propaganda used by Cuvier and Julian-Joseph Virey who sourced Baartman's traditional illustrations and iconography to publish their 'scientific' findings.[46]

Reviewers of Harris and Cox's work have commented that the presence of "the gaze" in the photograph of Cox presents a critical engagement with previous traditional imagery of Baartman.[7] bell hooks has elaborated further on the function of the gaze:

The gaze has been and is a site of resistance for colonized black people globally. Subordinates in relations of power learn experientially that there is a critical gaze, one that "looks" to document, one that is oppositional. In resistance struggle, the power of the dominated to assert agency by claiming and cultivating "awareness" politicizes "looking" relations – one learns to look a certain way in order to resist.[47]

"Permitted" is an installation piece created by Renee Samwise Green inspired by Sarah Baartman. Green created a specific viewing arrangement to investigate the European perception of the black female body as "exotic", "bizarre" and "monstrous". Viewers were prompted to step onto the installed platform which was meant to evoke a stage, where Baartman may have been exhibited. Green recreates the basic setting of Baartman's exhibition. At the centre of the platform, which there is a large image of Baartman, and wooden rulers or slats with an engraved caption by Francis Galton encouraging viewers to measure Baartman's buttocks. In the installation there is also a peephole that allows viewers to see an image of Baartman standing on a crate. According to Willis, the implication of the peephole, demonstrates how ethnographic imagery of the black female form in the nineteenth century functioned as a form of pornography for Europeans present at Baartmans exhibit.[46]

In her film, "Reassemblage: From the firelight to the screen", Trinh T. Minh-ha comments on the ethnocentric bias that the colonizers eye applies to the naked female form. Minha argues that this bias causes the nude female body to be seen as inherently sexually provocative, promiscuous and pornographic within the context of European or western culture.[48] Feminist artists are interested in re-representing Saartjie Baartman's image, and work to highlight the stereotypes and ethnocentric bias surrounding the black female body based on art historical representations and iconography that occurred before, after and during Saartjie Baartman's lifetime.[46]

Media representation and feminist criticism[edit]

In November 2014, Paper Magazine released a cover of Kim Kardashian in which she was illustrated as balancing a champagne glass on her extended rear. The cover received much criticism for endorsing "the exploitation and fetishism of the black female body."[49] The similarities with the way in which Baartman was represented as the "Hottentot Venus" during the 19th century have prompted much criticism and commentary.[50]

According to writer Geneva S. Thomas, anyone that is aware of black women's history under colonialist influence would consequentially be aware that Kardashian's photo easily elicits memory regarding the visual representation of Baartman.[50] The photographer and director of the photo, Jean-Paul Goude, based the photo on his previous work "Carolina Beaumont", taken of a nude model in 1976 and published in his book Jungle Fever.[51]

A People Magazine article in 1979 about his relationship with model Grace Jones describes Goude in the following statement:

Jean-Paul has been fascinated with women like Grace since his youth. The son of a French engineer and an American-born dancer, he grew up in a Paris suburb. From the moment he saw West Side Story and the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, he found himself captivated by "ethnic minorities" — black girls, PRs. "I had jungle fever." He now says, "Blacks are the premise of my work."[52]

Days before the shoot, Goude often worked with his models to find the best "hyperbolized" position to take his photos. His model and partner, Grace Jones, would also pose for days prior to finally acquiring the perfect form. "That's the basis of my entire work," Goude states, "creating a credible illusion."[51] Similarly, Baartman and other black female slaves were illustrated and depicted in a specific form to identify features, which were seen as proof of ideologies regarding black female primitivism.[39]

The professional background of Goude and the specific posture and presentation of Kardashian's image on the cover of paper magazine has caused feminist critics to comment how the objectification of the Baartman's body and the ethnographic representation of her image in 19th century society presents a comparable and complementary parallel to how Kardashian is currently represented in the media.[53]

Display of remains[edit]

After Baartman's death, Geoffroy Saint Hilaire applied on behalf of the Muséum d' Histoire Naturelle to retain her corpse on the grounds that it was of singular specimen of humanity and therefore of special scientific interest.[54] The application was approved and Baartman's skeleton and body cast were displayed in Muséum d'histoire naturelle d’Angers, where she entertained visitors until her skull was stolen in 1827, and subsequently returned a few months later. The restored skeleton and skull continued to arouse the interest of visitors until the remains were moved to the Musée de l'Homme, when it was founded in 1937, and continued up until the late 1970s. Her body cast and skeleton stood side by side and faced away from the viewer which emphasized her steatopygia (accumulation of fat on the buttocks) while reinforcing that aspect as the primary interest of her body. The Baartman exhibit proved popular until it elicited complaints from feminists who believed the exhibit was a degrading representation of women. The skeleton was removed in 1974, and the body cast in 1976.[7]

Cultural references[edit]

  • On 10 January 1811, at the New Theatre, London, a pantomime called "The Hottentot Venus" featured at the end of the evening's entertainment.[55]
  • In William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 novel Vanity Fair, George Osborne angrily refuses his father's instruction to marry a West Indian mulatto heiress by referring to Miss Swartz as "that Hottentot Venus".
  • In "Crinoliniana" (1863), a poem satirising Victorian fashion, the author compares a woman in a crinoline to a "Venus" from "the Cape".[56]
  • In James Joyce's 1916 novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the protagonist, Stephen Deadalus, refers to "the great flanks of Venus" after a reference to the Hottentot people, when discussing the discrepancies between cultural perceptions of female beauty.
  • Dame Edith Sitwell referred to her allusively in "Hornpipe", a poem in the satirical collection "Façade".[57]
  • Elizabeth Alexander explores her story in a 1987 poem and 1990 book, both entitled The Venus Hottentot.
  • Suzan-Lori Parks used the story of Saartjie Baartman as the basis for her 1996 play Venus.
  • Lyle Ashton Harris collaborated with the model Renee Valerie Cox to produce a photographic image, Hottentot Venus 2000.[58]
  • Cathy Park Hong wrote a poem entitled Hottentot Venus in her 2007 book Translating Mo'um.
  • Lydia R. Diamond's 2008 play Voyeurs de Venus investigates Saartjie Baartman's life from a postcolonial perspective.[59]
  • A movie entitled Black Venus, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and starring Yahima Torres as Sarah, was released in 2010.
  • Hendrik Hofmeyr composed a 20-minute opera entitled Saartjie which was to be premiered by Cape Town Opera in November 2010.
  • Douglas Kearney published a poem titled "Drop It Like It's Hottentot Venus" in April 2012.[60]
  • Diane Awerbuck has Saartjie Baartman feature as a central thread in her novel Home Remedies. The work is critical of the "grandstanding" that so often surrounds Saartjie Baartman: as Awerbuck has explained, "Saartjie Baartman is not a symbol. She is a dead woman who once suffered in a series of cruel systems. The best way we can remember her is by not letting it happen again."[61]
  • Brett Bailey's "Exhibit B" (a human zoo) depicts Baartman.[62]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Clifton C. Crais, Pamela Scully (2009). Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: a ghost story and a biography. Princeton University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-691-13580-9. 
  2. ^ Another "Hottentot Venus" featured at a fête given in 1829 for the Duchess of Berry :Poster
  3. ^ a b c d Davie, Lucille (14 May 2012). "Sarah Baartman, at rest at last". SouthAfrica.info. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  4. ^ a b Clifton Crais and Pamela Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus; A Ghost Story and a Biography (Princeton, 2009)
  5. ^ Qureshi, Sadiah (2004). "Displaying Sara Baartman, the Hottentot Venus". Science History Publications Ltd. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Crais and Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Qureshi, Sadiah (June 2004). "Displaying Sara Baartman, the 'Venus Hottentot'". History of Science. 42 (136): 233–257. The woman ... is now called Sara Baartman. Unfortunately, no record of her original name exists and she is better known by her epithet, the Hottentot Venus', to her contemporaries, present-day historians, and political activists 
  8. ^ In her testimony to the Court of King's Bench via a Dutch interpreter Baartman said: 'Her father was a drover of cattle, and in going up the country was killed by the Bushmen.' The Times (London, England), 29 November 1810, p. 3: Law Report. Court of King's Bench.
  9. ^ a b c d Crais and Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus
  10. ^ Clifton Crais and Pamela Scully, Hendrik Cesars and the Tragedies of Race in South Africa [1]
  11. ^ "Law Report." Times [London, England] 26 Nov. 1810: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Aug. 2012.
  12. ^ The Times (London, England), 29 November 1810, p. 3: Law Report. Court of King's Bench. The Attorney-General commented "As to Lord Caledon's permission, it would have been wrong in his lordship to have given it. But it should be known, that ... no contract among them [the Khoisan] was valid unless it was made before a Magistrate. This contract between the Hottentot and Cezar[sic] was made as usual; but when Lord Caledon discovered for what purpose, he was much displeased, and would have stopped the parties if they had then been in his power."
  13. ^ Qureshi, Sadiah, "Displaying Sara Baartman, the 'Hottentot Venus'" History of Science, Volume 42, Part 2, Number 136, June 2004, pp.233–257
  14. ^ a b c d Lederman, Muriel and Ingrid Bartsch (2001). The Gender and Science Reader. New York: Routledge, p. 351.
  15. ^ Crais, Clifton and Pamela Scully. Sara Baartman and The Hottentot Venus: A Ghost Story and a Biography. Princeton University Press. 
  16. ^ Document in the collection of the New York Public Library
  17. ^ a b Strother, Z.S. (1999). "Display of the Body Hottentot", in Lindfors, B., (ed.), Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Show Business. Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press: 1–55.
  18. ^ a b The Times, 26 November 1810, p. 3: "...she is dressed in a colour as nearly resembling her skin as possible. The dress is contrived to exhibit the entire frame of her body, and the spectators are even invited to examine the peculiarities of her form."
  19. ^ Scully, Pamela, and Clifton Crais. "Race and erasure: Sara Baartman and Hendrik Cesars in Cape town and London." The Journal of British Studies 47.02 (2008): 301-323.
  20. ^ Pamela Scully and Clifton Crais, "Race and Erasure:Sara Baartman and Hendrik Cesar in Cape Town and London". Journal of British History 2008, p 319-320
  21. ^ Pamela Scully and Clifton Crais, "Race and Erasure: Sara Baartman and Hendrik Cesar in Cape Town and London". Journal of British History 2008
  22. ^ "Dunlop produced a contract signed by himself and Sara dated 29 October 1810, which was to run from the preceding March for five years. This stated that she was his domestic servant and would allow herself to be exhibited in public in return for 12 guineas a year." Karen Harvey, "Baartman, Sara (1777x88–1815/16)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  23. ^ The Times, Thursday 12 December 1811, p.3:'The African fair one who has so greatly attracted the notice of the town... is stated to have been baptized on Sunday week last, in the Collegiate church at Manchester, by the name of Sarah Bartmann.'
  24. ^ England Births and Christenings 1538–1975, Sarah Bartmann http://www.familysearch.org
  25. ^ Biologist Stephen Jay Gould recounted Cuvier's monograph on Saartjie's genitalia, "The labia minora, or inner lips, of the ordinary female genitalia are greatly enlarged in Khoi-San women, and may hang down three or four inches below the vulva when women stand, thus giving the impression of a separate and enveloping curtain of skin."Gould, Stephen Jay (1985). "The Hottentot Venus." The Flamingo's Smile. New York: W. W. Norton, p. 298.
  26. ^ possibly Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
  27. ^ "It is but justice to the modesty of the Hottentots to say that I have constantly found as many difficulties in the part of the women to submit to the exposure parts which a closer inspection required, as in all probability would have occurred in persuading an equal number of females of any other description to undergo examination." William Somerville, a British surgeon stationed at the Cape between 1799 and 1802, describing his difficulty in gathering information about Khoisan anatomy.
  28. ^ a b c Clifton C. Crais, Pamela Scully (2009). Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: a ghost story and a biography. Princeton University Press. pp. 131–134
  29. ^ "Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Institute of France". The Journal of Science and the Arts. III (V): 154. 1818. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  30. ^ In The Blood by Steve Jones has it that "Saartje's hands are covered by the marks of the smallpox that killed her" (p. 204).
  31. ^ "The Hottentot Venus, it appears from the French papers, died at Paris last week, after an illness of eight days. Her malady is said to have been the small pox, which the physicians mistook successively for a catarrh, a pleurisy, and a dropsy of the chest." Times [London, England] 6 Jan. 1816: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Aug. 2012.
  32. ^ Cuvier refers to her instrument as a "guimbarde", usually translated into English as "jew's harp": a contemporary illustration however shows Baartman with a Khoi instrument, the goura.
  33. ^ "Son caractère étoit gai, sa mémoire bonne, et elle reconnoissoit après plusieurs semaines une personne qu'elle n'avoit vue qu'une fois. Elle parloit tolérablement le hollandais qu'elle avoit appris au Cap, savoit aussi un peu d'anglais, et commencoit à dire quelques mots de francais. Elle dansoit à la manière de son pays, et jouoit avec assez d'oreille de ce petit instrument qu'on appelle guimbarde....ses épaules, son dos, le haut de sa poitrine avoient de la grace...Ses bras un peu grèles, étoient très-bien faits, et sa main charmante. Son pied étoit aussi fort joli..."("Her personality was lively, her memory good and, after a gap of some weeks, she recognised someone she had seen only the once. She spoke reasonable Dutch, which she had learned in The Cape, knew some English, and was beginning to say a few words in French. She danced according to the fashion of her own country, and played on the instrument they call the 'jew's harp' quite by ear....her shoulders, back, and upper chest were graceful...Her arms (rather slender) were very well-made, and her hand charming. Her foot was also very pretty....") Cuvier, G.:"Extrait d'observations faites sur le cadavre d'une femme connue à Paris et à Londres sous le nomme de Vénus Hottentotte", Mémoires du Musée Nationale d'Histoire Naturelle, iii (1817), pp. 259–274.
  34. ^ name=bbcnews2002>"'Hottentot Venus' goes home". BBC. 29 April 2002. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  35. ^ For a discussion of the politics of her return, see chapter 7 Crais and Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus
  36. ^ "Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children". Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. 
  37. ^ "SA takes on poachers". 11 November 2005. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. 
  38. ^ Gordon-Chipembere, Natasha (2011). Representation and Black Womanhood: The Legacy of Sarah Baartman. 157 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10010: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-349-29798-6. 
  39. ^ a b c d e Gilman, Sander. "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth Century Art, Medicine, and Literature". Critical Inquiry, The University of Chicago Press, 1985
  40. ^ Clifton C. Crais, Pamela Scully. "Race and Erasure: Sara Baartman and Hendrik Cesars in Cape Town and London". Journal of British Studies, The University of Chicago Press, 2008
  41. ^ Shibamoto, S Janet. Feminism and Linguistic Theory by Deborah Cameron (Book Review), Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (1988): 635–640.Print.
  42. ^ Gordon-Chipembere, Natasha ( 2011). Representation and Black Womanhood. Palgrave Macmillan
  43. ^ Clifton C. Crais, Pamela Scully (2009). Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: a ghost story and a biography. Princeton University Press. p.9
  44. ^ http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/hottentot
  45. ^ Mary McMahon, "Who are the Hottentots", Wise Geek, November 9th, 2014
  46. ^ a b c d Willis, Deborah. "Black Venus 2010: They called her 'Hottentot.'" Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010. Project Muse
  47. ^ hooks, bell. (1992) Black Looks : Race and Representation. South End Press. pp. 115 – 131.
  48. ^ Min-ha, Trin – T, "Reassemblage: From the firelight to the screen.", Youtube, March 23, 2012
  49. ^ Lee, Jolie, "Kardashian photo plays off controversial black imagery" USA today, November 13, 2014
  50. ^ a b Thomas, Geneva, "Kim Kardashian: Posing Black Femaleness?" Clutch,
  51. ^ a b Miller, Kelsey, "The Troubling Racial History of Kim K's Champagne Shot", Refinery 29, November 13th, 2014
  52. ^ "When Disco Queen Grace Jones Lamented 'I Need a Man,' Artist Jean-Paul Goude Prowled Too Near Her Cage". people.com. 
  53. ^ Telusma, Blue, "Kim Kardashian doesn't realize she's the butt of an old racial joke", The Grio, November 12th, 2014
  54. ^ Quershi, Sadiah (2004). "Displaying Sara Baartman, The 'Hotentot Venus'". Science History Publications Ltd. 
  55. ^ The Times, 10 January 1811; p. 2
  56. ^ "Another Venus once I saw, / A young Caffrarian from the Cape ;/And Bond Street swells surveyed with awe/The vast proportions of her shape. / Jet-black and woolly was her hair,/And damson-hued her bounteous lips ;/But more admired, beyond compare,/Were two enormous – pillow-slips./Yet slenderer was her girth than thine,/If measured round that Crinoline!" From "Crinoliniana" by "Dunshunner" (William Edmondstoune Aytoun:Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 93 (572): June 1863, p.763 [2]
  57. ^ Walton: 'Hornpipe' from Facade
  58. ^ "Lyle Ashton Harris and Renee Valerie Cox: 'Hottentot Venus 2000'". Postcolonial Studies @ Emory. Emory University. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  59. ^ "Megan Tench: 'Exploring, not exploiting, a shameful history'" Boston Globe.
  60. ^ "National Poetry Month At The Rumpus - The Rumpus.net". The Rumpus.net. 
  61. ^ Raw Nerves: Lauren Beukes Chats to Diane Awerbuck and Recommends Home Remedies Times Live, 25 March 2013, accessed 14 July 2013
  62. ^ John O'Mahony. "Edinburgh's most controversial show: Exhibit B, a human zoo". The Guardian. 

References[edit]

  • Clifton Crais and Pamela Scully (2009). Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: A Ghost Story and a Biography. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-13580-0. 
  • Gilman, Sander L. (1985). "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature". In Gates, Henry (Ed.) Race, Writing and Difference 223–261. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
  • Qureshi, Sadiah (2004). "Displaying Sara Baartman, the 'Hottentot Venus'". In History of Science 42:233–257. PDF available here.
  • Scully, Pamela and Clifton Crais (2008). "Race and erasure: Sara Baartman and Hendrik Cesars in Cape town and London." In The Journal of British Studies, 47(02), 301-323.
  • Scully, Pamela. (2010). "Peripheral Visions: Heterography and Writing the Transnational Life of Sara Baartman." in Desley Deacon, Penny Russell, and Angela Woollacott, (Eds.) Transnational Lives. Palgrave Macmillan: 27-40.
  • Willis, Deborah (Ed.) Black Venus 2010: They Called Her 'Hottentot'. Philadelphia, PA. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-4399-0205-9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fausto-Sterling, Anne (1995). "Gender, Race, and Nation: The Comparative Anatomy of 'Hottentot' Women in Europe, 1815–1817". In Terry, Jennifer and Jacqueline Urla (Ed.) Deviant Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Difference in Science and Popular Culture, 19–48. Bloomington, Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32898-5.
  • Hobson, Janell (2005). Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-97402-8. 
  • Holmes, Rachel (2006). The Hottentot Venus. Bloomsbury, Random House. ISBN 0-7475-7776-5. 
  • Qureshi, Sadiah (2011). Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-2267-0096-8. 
  • Ritter, Sabine (2010). Facetten der Sarah Baartman: Repräsentationen und Rekonstruktionen der ‚Hottentottenvenus‘. Münster: Lit Verlag. ISBN 3-643-10950-4.

Films[edit]

  • Abdellatif Kechiche: Vénus noire (Black Venus). Paris, MK2, 2009
  • Zola Maseko: The life and times of Sara Baartman. Icarus, 1998

External links[edit]