This essay argues for an ecofeminist rendering of Fabienne Kanor's neo-slave narrative Humus (2006). My contention is that Kanor's text supports a sustainable initiative concerned with the preservation of minor histories of enslavement. I show how, operating like a fertilizer, so to speak, Humus supplies nutrients in the form of twelve individual narratives that the author has imagined from an apparently trivial anecdote recuperated from the on-board journal of a French ship captain written in 1774. Dissatisfied with Captain Louis Mosnier's dry depiction of fourteen enslaved Black women who chose to jump off his ship in a desperate attempt to escape enslavement, Kanor reshuffles his narrative by filling in the gaps left in his dehumanizing account of the women's discontinued non-history with Humus. To this end, she stresses the elusive presence of these women in the hold and the subversive role they played in the resistance to bondage, thereby refashioning knowledge of the slave trade and slavery with a gendered perspective. In her quest to revitalize and protect the women's "Arbre d'essence sacrée [Tree of sacred essence]" (68) made vulnerable by the ongoing colonizing actions of humans, Kanor, like Edouard Glissant in Le Discours antillais, "quarrel[s] with History" (222) to re-create beauty and being from the scraps of the captives' existences that l'Histoire had automatically relegated to the periphery of humanity.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 311-326
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.