Abstract

This essay offers a transnational exploration of Suzan-Lori Parks's dis(re)memberment of Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, a Khoisan woman from South Africa who was displayed in Europe in the 1800s under the appellation "The Hottentot Venus." Juxtaposing two simultaneous events—post-apartheid south Africa's efforts to repatriate baartman's remains, and the volatile American reception of Parks's play Venus—reveals the ways in which Parks's aesthetic, defined here as a "drama of disinterment," calls into question the notion that historical trauma is a wound that must be healed in the name of unity, the idea that reconciliation necessarily entails the establishment of an objective truth, and the assumption that the restoration of dignity is the goal of the recovery process.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 181-199
Launched on MUSE
2008-06-25
Open Access
No
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