restricted access What We Talk about When We Talk about Beloved
Abstract

A decade's worth of criticism lauds Beloved for mourning the trauma of American slavery. However, much of this criticism is limited by the boundaries of trauma-theory. Alternatively, an analysis of property-rights in Beloved, focusing on the legal problem of "claiming," demonstrates that claiming is an act of psychical self-possession as well as a formal demand for property rights. Claiming property presupposes but also produces the individual freedom of the one making the claim. We may therefore read Beloved as creating an imperative case for reparations for slavery and Jim Crow segregation, drawing on theories of liberal justice and reconciliation.


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