Title

The Hottentot Venus: Icon of Racial Objectification and Liberation

Abstract

Sara Baartman grew up in South Africa in the late 18th century and earned the infamous title “The Hottentot Venus” for her “unusual” body proportions and forced participation in ethnographic displays in London. In death, various parts of Sara’s body, her genitals, brain, skeleton, and plaster body cast, were put on display in the Musee de l’Homme for nearly two hundred years until recent repatriation of her remains in 2002. The acts of racial subjugation and objectification that affected Sara Baartman and made her world-famous did not decide only her fate, but established a basis for the treatment of Africans. Black women fight centuries of ingrained negative views and attitudes towards female African sexuality and beauty. The evidence of this discrimination of women within the African Diaspora is laid bare through literary, theatrical, and visual artistic works. Through the same channels, reactions and desire for change emerge in the art of black female artists. This research explores the life of Sara Baartman, her antemortem and postmortem display, and analyzes the ways she impacts racial disparagement and racial liberation in relationship to black women, particularly within the realm of art.

Start Date

15-3-2013 1:30 PM

End Date

15-3-2013 2:45 PM

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The Hottentot Venus: Icon of Racial Objectification and Liberation

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Sara Baartman grew up in South Africa in the late 18th century and earned the infamous title “The Hottentot Venus” for her “unusual” body proportions and forced participation in ethnographic displays in London. In death, various parts of Sara’s body, her genitals, brain, skeleton, and plaster body cast, were put on display in the Musee de l’Homme for nearly two hundred years until recent repatriation of her remains in 2002. The acts of racial subjugation and objectification that affected Sara Baartman and made her world-famous did not decide only her fate, but established a basis for the treatment of Africans. Black women fight centuries of ingrained negative views and attitudes towards female African sexuality and beauty. The evidence of this discrimination of women within the African Diaspora is laid bare through literary, theatrical, and visual artistic works. Through the same channels, reactions and desire for change emerge in the art of black female artists. This research explores the life of Sara Baartman, her antemortem and postmortem display, and analyzes the ways she impacts racial disparagement and racial liberation in relationship to black women, particularly within the realm of art.