Articles

The Human Factor 

The Human Factor 

   

ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home 

  www.nathanielturner.com

 Having totally destabilised the Hamas government of Palestine, Lebanon seemed a nice bit of icing to add to that cake. Israel, the script went, would then be able from a position of strength, impose its solutions on the rest of the Middle East

 

 ]]>

 Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

*   *   *   *   *

The Human Factor

By John Maxwell

 

Even the notoriously noncommittal Kofi Annan must have been surprised when a journalist questioned his credentials for refereeing the current Mideast free-for-all.

At a press conference in Rome after the failed Middle East  peacekeeping talks, an English speaking journalist drove hard at Mr Annan. Didn’t the UN Secretary general  think that his condemnation of Israel for deliberately bombing the UN position undermined his  qualifications to be an honest broker in the conflict? 

Annan pointed out that the questioner misquoted him. He did not say “deliberate bombing” but “apparently deliberate bombing.”

It was a little hard to understand why the questioner chose to tackle Annan on that point, since it had been clear for some time that there was no question that Israel had bombed the UN outpost after having been warned several times that they were firing perilously close to the UN position.

In fact, Israel’s commander in the field, who could see the UN position, was warned at least ten times, at least six of those  times by an Irish member of the UNIFIL team. And when israel finally destroyed the post it was done by way of a bomb and a precision guided missile. If that doesn’t sound at least like an ‘apparently deliberate”  act I can’t imagine what could.

Israel’s frustration is showing. 

The plan was to teach its enemies a short, sharp lesson, to castrate Hezbollah and to punish the Lebanese for allowing ‘terrorists’ to hijack their country. Even the Lebanese government seemed to agree at the beginning of the conflict. It might be a good thing to discipline Hezbollah, it suggested. But that soon turned to something else. 

The Lebanese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were soon saying that Hezbollah were Lebanese, patriotically defending their homeland. In fact, Hezbollah is a party and is included in the Lebanese Cabinet. The turnaround in attitude came when it became clear that far from being taught a short, sharp lesson, Hezbollah was fulfilling its promise to surprise Israel and the world. In two weeks of relentless bombardment the Israeli incursion has still not got past first base in Lebanon, and on Wednesday, at Bint Jabayl, a town they said they had surrounded, if not captured , the Israel Defence Force suffered a brutal setback, losing nine troops killed and many more wounded   in intense fighting.   The Israelis have admitted losing 33 soldiers; Hezbollah have said they have lost 35.

The Israelis have said that their assault was precisely aimed at Hezbollah assets, not at the civilian population. Clearly civilian losses  included 600 people (according to the Lebanese government), about 200 of them children; 5,000 homes, one toilet paper factory, one bottle factory and 150 other businesses. Nearly one million Lebanese have been driven from their homes. 

By Thursday afternoon a partial list of other  important Lebanese assets destroyed by Israel included:

The Beirut Lighthouse and the ports of Beirut, Tripoli and Jounieh.

Three (3) Dams, two (2) power stations and one (1) sewage plant; 62 Bridges, 22 gas stations, 72 road overpasses, and 600 kilometers of road. 

In the realm of communications Hezbollah’s Al manar TV station was one of two TV stations destroyed ALONG with two mobile phone networks

And finally in addition to this impressive list of presumably military targets we must add one military airport, two civil airports, 4 radar installations and one (1) army barracks.

According to ReliefWeb:

“As of July 26, WHO reported … more than 1,267 people are injured. The conflict has affected an estimated 800,000 people, including internally displaced, individuals under siege, refugees, and asylum seekers. 

“OCHA estimated that 710,000 people have fled their homes, and the majority are now located in Beirut, Tyre, Sidon, the Chouf mountains, and the Alea region. Although the majority of displaced are staying with relatives and friends, approximately 125,000 are staying in schools and public institutions in Lebanon, and 150,000 have crossed the border into Syria. According to international media reports, remaining residents in southern Lebanon cannot leave due to ongoing attacks and damaged infrastructure.”

The UN children’s Fund (UNICEF)  estimates that 45 per cent of the displaced population are children. Approximately half of them – about  125,000 are living in 587 schools and shelters and in are in urgent need of water storage and tankers, improved sanitation, and health kits. 

UNICEF says: “… the insecure situation especially in southern Lebanon has severely restricted UNICEF’s ability to reach the affected population outside of Beirut. UNICEF joins the rest of the UN family in its call for safe corridors for the delivery of aid to all affected children.”

Israel’s security Cabinet decided to step up its air campaign against Lebanon on Thursday, but said it would not expand its ground offensive after the death of nine of its soldiers in fighting for Bint Jbeil the day before.

The Beirut Daily Star reports: “According to Elias Hanna, a researcher of military affairs, the decision to limit the ground campaigns was made because “Israelis are traumatized by their negative experience during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.”

“They are afraid of suffering more losses in every village they try to conquer,” Hanna added.

The researcher said internal political calculations are also affecting Israel’s military strategy.

“The ruling coalition includes the conservative Likud Party, which is constantly trying to prove that the withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 was a mistake in the first place,” Hanna said.

The Israeli daily Haaretz said Israeli consensus over a large-scale offensive in Lebanon is beginning to “crack.” 

“…critics are starting to say the government launched the offensive hastily, with no exit strategy, and many fear the country is again being dragged into a quagmire across its northern border.” 

The truth is that Israel has got itself into an unholy mess from which it has no easy exit. Since its initial strategy seemed to be based on an easy, lossless victory, a sort of war college setpiece,  driving back Hezbollah to its caves, the fact that they have taken nearly two weeks to make any impression in their ground offensive frightens many Israelis. 

Rockets are still hitting Haifa and there is no progress on the ground in Lebanon. The script was not supposed to be going this way. 

Israel is now in a position where ‘winning’ seems implausible and anything less will look suspiciously like defeat. Too many IDF soldiers are being killed and the Israeli nation does not want to accept massive casualties.

Having totally destabilised the Hamas government of Palestine, Lebanon seemed a nice bit of icing to add to that cake. Israel, the script went, would then be able from a position of strength, impose its solutions on the rest of the Middle East, backed by its invincible partner, the United States. 

They felt so confident that they spoke of enforcing UN resolution 1559 demanding the surrender of Lebanon and the disarmament of Hezbollah. This demand is especially poignant, when it is remembered that Israel has for fifty years, defied scores of UN Security Council’s resolutions about the settlement of the Palestinian question and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli calculus was based on the doctrines of Ariel Sharon – who saw no reason to obey any law which did not suit him – and a long line of Israeli statesmen who have nibbled away at Palestinian rights and Palestinian property without fear of successful challenge. 

This all depended on Arab armies which would fire a few rounds in the air and then retreat, honour satisfied. Hezbollah, it turns out, is made of sterner stuff. But Hezbollah should not have taken Israel by surprise. It was that organisation after all, which drove the Israelis to vacate Lebanon twenty years ago after Sharon’s bloody and unsuccessful attempt to settle Palestine by way of  Lebanon.

This time the defeat will be more easily visible on a larger stage particularly because the United States and Israel have postured so grandly and played their cards so badly. 

It was clear, as some Arab commentators have said, that the mere kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers was not the real reason for the start of these hostilities. Soldiers have been kidnapped before and exchanged for prisoners kidnapped by Israel.

The original kidnapping was, after all, an attempt to pressure Israel into returning several hundred civilians held by Israel without charge and including dozens of women and children. 

Somehow, the Western press, in reporting the Palestine conflict, finds it difficult to see Palestinian grievances as real and substantial. They proclaim the illegitimate expression of the grievances but ignore the legitimate grievances themselves. Israel’s arrogant kidnapping of several Hamas cabinet ministers was meant to teach a lesson, a lesson perilously close to the dictum stated some years ago by a Jewish rabbi at the funeral of a Jewish terrorist named Dr Baruch Goldstein.

Goldstein  walked into a mosque in Jerusalem  with a machine-gun and killed  twenty-nine Palestinians and wounded 125 others before he was torn to pieces by the congregation.. At his funeral the rabbi, one Yacov Perin declared “One million Arab lives are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” 

Western commentators and the Israeli government, echoed by Ms Condoleezza Rice and her president, suggest that the real problem is the support of terrorists by Syria and Iran. In calling for the enforcement of the UN resolution it does not seem to have crossed their minds that there are other, even more relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Whether the Israelis and the US press believe so or not, the UN resolutions were not anti-semitic, nor anti-Zionist nor anti-Jewish, but were the world’s sincere attempts to deliver justice to both sides – to people who have been holding the sharp end of the stick ever since Joshua smote the Amalekites and the Amorites, David smote the Philistines and the Romans smote the Jews. 

The problem is that the Israelis, grievously wronged by European peoples, cannot believe that they can live peacefully and occupy the same general space as any other people. It is an exaggeration to describe the attitude of the Zionists as believing that the Bible is a title to Palestinian real estate, but the behaviour of Ehud Olmert and those Israelis who follow him, makes it seem very much that way. Olmert is reported to have said he would drive Palestinians mad with sonic booms.

Olmert and many, but not all his predecessors, have behaved as if might is right, that facts on the ground are tantamount to eternal truths. Which is why some ‘democrats’ were  so surprised that the Palestinians, given a chance at democracy, elected Hamas to be their government. And that the Lebanese have now been radicalised, not by Hezbollah, but by the Israel Defence Force. It does not seem to matter that Hamas are Palestinians and Hezbollah are Lebanese, legitimate expressions of their people, not imported from anywhere else.

There is of course another difficulty. To attempt to separate Hamas from Palestine and Hezbollah from Lebanon on the ground that they are terrorists would require the dismemberment of the countries. The “Terrorists” have become integral with the populations because they express the terrible grievances of the people. Many Israelis over the years have realised that you cannot impose peace through war and injustice. Wise Israelis and others have been pointing out for years that every Israeli victory seems to produce a new and larger crop of enemies. The process seems endless.

If we were to calculate the suffering, the number of lives lost and destroyed on all sides, the amount of treasure and culture lost, we would be appalled, horrified, struck dumb, perhaps. It seems acceptable in small doses, until we realise how corroded our souls have become and how much of our civilisations we have thrown into the trash along with the truth.

Any attempt to tell the truth in this conflict is almost  immediately denounced as anti-semitic or pro-terrorist and invites violence of one sort or another. But the much larger violences which are ignored by propaganda are likely to be apocalyptic in scale when they do happen, and are inevitable unless we begin to face facts and tell ourselves the truth. 

I cannot do my duty to my friend by telling him the lies he wants to hear. If I do that, I am setting him up for his enemy.

Copyright©2006 John Maxwell jankunnu[at]yahoo.com 

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  

Fiction

#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

Ratification

The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

   

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

posted 29 July 2006

  ]]>

 ]]>

 

Home  John Maxwell Table

Related Files: Diary of Zena el-Khalil   Jerusalem and Spirituality

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Articles

The Human Factor 

The Human Factor 

   

ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home 

  www.nathanielturner.com

The issue of Sara Baartman became controversial in the 1980s, when demands

began for the return of her remains to the Cape of Good Hope, for burial with dignity

 

  ]]>

Life and Times of Sara Baartman

the Hottentot Venus

 

Sara Baartman was taken from the Cape of Good Hope to London in 1810, aged about twenty, and was displayed in Piccadilly and elsewhere for paying customers as “the Hottentot Venus”. In 1814 she was taken to France, in the interregnum of Napoleon’s exile. “La Venus Hottentote” became the object of medical and scientific research as well as prurient entertainment. When she died in 1815 her body was first copied in a plaster-cast and then dissected, leaving her skeleton, her pickled brain, and her pickled sex organs for display in Paris museums up to 1985. This reviewer remembers his amazement on encountering her naked plaster-cast and her skeleton in glass boxes as the very first exhibits to be seen by a visitor in the foyer of the great Musee de l’Homme, standing before tall glass windows that revealed a distant view of the Eifel Tower. The exhibit, which was set up at the time of the Eifel Tower, seemed to be saying: look here in the foreground at Man’s primitive, female African ancestry, and look there in the background at the climax of Man’s achievement piercing the sky, with a long straight avenue parted through the trees of the gardens between them.

The issue of Sara Baartman became controversial in the 1980s, when demands began for the return of her remains to the Cape of Good Hope, for burial with dignity. The display of her remains had ceased to be of ‘scientific’ interest, if they ever had been, and had become an icon of racial and sexual prejudice. The museum put her skeleton and plaster-cast into storage, “lost” (apparently destroyed) her brain and pudenda, and put up a hell of a fight to retain for France such a glorious object of national heritage. A decade later, when South Africa was flavour of the month as a newly independent state, new museum staff seemed much more accommodating. Hence the film under review could be made in 1998, in expectation of Sara Baartman’s imminent return to the Cape.

The film tells the story in straitforward enough manner. Spoken sketchy details of Sara’s life on a farm near Cape Town are stitched together as commentary against pictures of the Cape peninsular dissolving into the waters of the sea off Table Bay. Next we pull back from the water to see the Thames and the House of Commons, and we are told she is now in London. The same technique is later used to jump Sara’s life to Paris. (Somewhat disturbing for a historian, as all the buildings we see in London and Paris were built long after Sara’s death.) The main interest of the film is a series of interviews with expert witnesses against appropriate backdrops, including bravura performances from the Namibian historian Yvette Abraham, the anatomist-palaeontologist Raymond Dart in his study with skeletal material round him, a theatre expert in a theatre, a museologist in a museum, etc. There are also cartoons of the time, newspaper pages and engravings, and the very skeleton and the plaster-cast of dead Sara Baartman herself. It is the latter, a mesmerizing caricature of what Sara must have almost–but not quite–looked like, that gets the most visual attention. The final sequence is of this cast being placed in a box as if for transport, with a female jazz voice singing that she’s going back to Africa.

Here it is as well to add that the film is based on an optimistic false premise: the body of Sara Baartman has not yet been repatriated. The South African campaign ran out of steam. If and when the effort is revived, it would be well to draw a lesson from the repatriation of the body of “Le Bechuana” (latterly known as “El Negro”) from Spain to Botswana in 2000. The Spanish national museum cleaned away and/or kept all the plastered flesh and stuffing from the body, and returned a bare skull with a few leg and arm bones in a square box. The only surviving actual remains of Sara Baartman are her bones, which may someday return to Africa. The puffy-faced plaster-cast is merely an image of her in death, and will no doubt be retained in Europe.

To me the most poignant moment in the film is also the most informative. It is an account previously unknown to me, when Sara tells a Paris journalist about her origins. A female over-voice recounts with engaging simplicity a tale of childhood betrothal in the Houteniqua mountains, brutally interrupted by white settler slave-raiders attracted by the smoking fires of the pre-nuptial feast. Who cares if it could have been a type-story rather than literal truth? It is the one time in the film that we get a glimpse of a real-seeming Sara, whose previous recorded comments in a court of law are so stilted that they must have been dragged or drugged out of her.

As for using the film for teaching purposes, I showed the film to a few students and colleagues. They found the film accessible and convincing. They were simultaneously intrigued, disgusted, and annoyed at the indignity of Sara Baartman’s treatment in life and two further centuries of exploitation of her body in death. They conceded that dissection and examination might sometimes be necessary for medical advance, but agreed with Tobias that the scientific value of Sara’s display had long passed and she ought to be buried as soon as possible at the Cape of Good Hope.

On the down side, the sloppiness of some of the subtitles and the monotony of the too-often repeated musical dirge about going home to Africa were criticized. It was also suggested that a teaching film may not be able to have footnotes but it should at least suggest some further reading in its end-credits. My own criticism centers on the slightly confused historical view of the origins of scientific racism propagated by the film and absorbed by my students. This confusion stems from the film’s use of its most graphic cartoon. This illustration, which also features in Stephen Jay Gould’s essay on the Hottentot Venus (published in his The Flamingo’s Smile: Reflections in Natural History New York: W.W. Norton, 1985), is of “La Belle Hottentote” on a pedestal, ogled by two Scots soldiers in kilts, a crouching woman inspecting between Sara’s legs, and a dog sniffing up the rear crotch of one of the soldiers. This cartoon is interpreted by the English theatrical expert in the film as having been an English cartoon, a conclusion backed by a French historian in the film remarking on the lack of cartoons of the Venus in Paris.

Gould says it is a “satiric French print of 1812”, published in Paris even before Sara Baartman came to Paris. Even the most cursory inspection of the cartoon shows that it is entirely captioned in French. It is undoubtedly a French view of Sara Baartman, even if it portrays British soldiers. Given the considerable fascination of French women for Scotsmen in kilts in Paris in 1814 and a hundred years later in 1914, I even wonder if the attribution to 1812 rather than 1814 is correct. (There are also stylistic features in the portrayal of her body that suggest the cartoon was contemporaneous to anatomical drawings made in Paris in 1814.)

Why is the attribution of this cartoon so important? Because it is necessary to distinguish between the English and French periods of residence of the Hottentot Venus to better understand her place in the development of scientific racism in nineteenth century Europe. In England she was a living “curiosity” such as had been displayed since Elizabethan times, a “savage” from one of the ends of the world, demonstrating the lowest human and perhaps the highest non-human end of the Great Chain of Being. The main public fascination was with the backward thrust of her derriere which validated and presaged the past and future female dress fashion of big rear bustles. In France, by contrast, she was dressed in furs and accompanied by a black servant, in the manner of an expensive courtesan. Her fascination was private rather than public, for an elite versed in a long-established French literary tradition of pornographic curiosity with Khoe/ “Hottentot” female genitalia. Was it really true that Khoe pudenda were distinguished by a tablier or “apron” of distended labia minora? (In fact, as we today know, such distension when it occurred was a contingent product of childhood manipulation, not a necessary feature of immutable “racial” biology.)

Hence the woman in the French cartoon is bending to try and spot the tablier between Sara’s legs. Hence, as we see in the film, the anatomists Georges Cuvier and Geoffoire de Saint-Hillaire, whom we need to be told really were the crucial pioneer figures in the development of European scientific racism, tried by every means to get the modest, living Sara Baartman to part her legs as she stood naked before them. And flourished with such triumph her butchered pudenda in a glass bowl or bottle when she was dead.

Citation: Neil Parsons, “Review of The Life and Times of Sara Baartman, the Hottentot Venus,” H-SAfrica, H-Net Reviews, December, 2001.

*   *   *   *   *

They call me Hottentot Venus – Saartjie Baartman / What is “The Saartjie Project”?  / Who Is Sara Baartman?

*   *   *   *   *

 Behind the Scenes of The Saartjie Project’ (august 2008

 

Inside the Saartjie Project from safidi tyehimba on Vimeo.

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  

Fiction

#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Hottentot Venus: A Novel

By Barbara Chase-Riboud

Hottentot Venus is the story of Ssehura, a young Khoisan girl orphaned in 1700s South Africa. Ssehura is renamed Saartjie (which means “little Sarah” in Dutch) by a Dutch Afrikaner who becomes her master. As is Khoisan custom, Sarah is groomed to be more sexually desirable for marriage. Her buttocks are massaged with special ointments to make them swell and her genitalia are stretched to produce the legendary “Hottentot apron,” exaggerated folds of skin. Thus, Sarah is a physical curiosity and a sexual fetish to her white master. He is persuaded by an Englishman to send her to London where she becomes a sideshow sensation. The English gentry is fascinated by her exotic African ethnicity and sexually charged presence making her stuff of legend and myth. Sarah enters the world of circus freak shows and becomes a popular exhibit. .  The “Hottentot Venus,” as she has become known, is the rage of Europe. Yet, beyond the parade of curiosity seekers and perverts, the very real loneliness of this young woman comes through. CopperfieldReview

*   *   *   *   *

African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus  

By Rachel Holmes

A celebrated “human curiosity,” exhibited in 1810 in London and Paris for her larger-than-average posterior, the so-called Hottentot Venus, Saartjie Baartmen, is delivered once and for all by Holmes (Scanty Particulars) from the forces of sentimental primitivism, imperialism and scientific racism that so determined her life. Academics will recognize Holmes as one of their own (she is a former professor of English at the universities of London and Sussex); this book is liberally salted with the language of feminist, psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory (here is how Holmes explains Saartjie’s susceptibility to exploitation at the hands of men: “[her] relationship with paternalistic figures was shadowed by her unresolved attachment to an idealized father, snatched from her at the point she most needed and respected him, and before she had cause to rebel against him”). But the book is propelled along by the inherent interest of Saartjie’s story and Holmes’s clear affection for her subject. Particularly close attention is given to Saartjie’s declining years and her gruesome posthumous treatment at the hands of French scientist Cuvier, whose macabre fascination with Saartjie inspires some of the book’s most engaging prose.— Publishers Weekly

Saartjie Baartman, a young South African woman, was brought to London in 1810 and displayed seminude as she danced suggestively to show off to best effect her ample bottom, earning her the name Hottentot Venus. Her public display and ultimate study by scientists long ago gained her iconic status as a symbol of European fascination with African sexuality. Holmes, author of Scanty Particulars (2003), explores the zeitgeist of Britain in the early 1800s, when Europeans were fascinated with the human behind and grappling with notions about race, sex, and colonialism. Holmes draws on press reports, ballads, and advertisements of the day that ridiculed Baartman as well as prominent politician Lord Grenville, who was similarly endowed. Baartman, abused by her manager and the public, attracted the attention of abolitionists, who saw in her a cause celebre to challenge provisions of the British constitution regarding slavery. Using fresh archival research, Holmes offers a definitive portrait of a woman whose remains–on museum display for generations–were only recently returned to South Africa for final burial. This is a probing look at historical racism and sexual exploitation presented through the life of an extraordinary woman.—Vanessa Bush, Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

Ratification

The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

   

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

posted 29 July 2006

  ]]>

 ]]>

 

Home  John Maxwell Table

Related Files: Diary of Zena el-Khalil   Jerusalem and Spirituality

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.