This article touches upon issues of captivity, suppression, misrepresentations and exclusion of black people from a historical and cultural point of view through the analysis of Chase-Riboud’s neo-Victorian novel Hottentot Venus (2003). It also focuses on the implications and consequences for contemporary South Africa of situations of slavery and exploitation of African descended peoples. Notions of identity and moral and legal inclusion of black women into past and contemporary societies and communities will be also discussed from the point of view of postcolonial and gender and sexuality studies. The complexities of blackness and the violation of human rights as a result of these will be a substantial argument throughout the text represented in the historical and fictional character of the Venus Hottentot. She was seen as the icon of sexual deviancy and became a victim of the white colonizer as the embodiment of black racialized sexuality for Europeans. However, despite her vulnerability, in the narrative she gains agency in resistance in Butlerean terms. In the Hottentot Venus, Barbara Chase-Riboud tries to bring to light the experience and the memory of slavery as they constitute a key element in the reconstruction of the past and in the construction of a better future. Similarly, the process of recovery and identity construction in a postcolonial era determined by the traces of colonial trauma is an important element in the fictionalization of Sarah Baartman’s life as an icon of the idealization and problematization of South-Africa. These issues bring to the fore questions of race and feminism, the idealization of the colonies and colonized people in contrast with white imperial subjects, and the consideration of the contemporary neo-slave narrative as a neo-Victorian genre.
Romero Ruiz, Maria Isabel.
"Chase Riboud’s Hottentot Venus (2003) and the Neo-Victorian: The Problematization of South-Africa and the Vulnerability and Resistance of the Black Other."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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