Li-Chun Hsiao, in his article "The Black Body and Representations of the (In)human," takes cues from the theoretical insights of Agamben's "bare life" as well as Laclau's and Mouffe's "social antagonism" and explores how the slave can be considered a constitutive element which is nevertheless foreclosed from Western democracies. Hsiao also analyzes the various ways the term "slave" functions as trope in the founding discourses of Western democracy. "Bare life" remains included in politics "in the form of the exception," as "something that is included solely through an exclusion." Such an "inclusive exclusion" is represented not in its differential relationship to the existing social order, but foregrounds an internal limit penetrating everything in society -- an impossibility of representation that lapses into a series of tropological substitutions. Slave labor, often if not always associated with the black body, inevitably poses uneasy and thought-provoking questions about the human/inhuman as evidenced by a long line of social, political, and literary Western discourses. Hsiao's focal point in this analysis is the discourse of post-Bastille France which he examines through his readings of George Sand's novel Indiana and in light of Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks.
"The Black Body and Representations of the (In)human."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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