The enslaved body
Negentiende Eeuw , Volume 39 - Issue 3-4 p. 307- 322
This contribution is about slavery in the Dutch colony of Suriname (Dutch Guyana) and focuses on the body as the ultimate example of the paradoxes of slavery as a system of apartheid. On the one hand the enslaved were by law considered to be no more than movable property, like horses or cattle. On the other hand the enslaved were supposed to perform like only human beings could. This is illustrated by a number of bodily dimensions. Black nakedness was a much observed, and sometimes cherished phenomenon, as opposed to completely covered white bodies, or like the normality of naked animals. Particularly the black female body was continually subject to white male lust, even though formally it was forbidden and enslaved were considered to be more animal like than human. The paradox of ethnic mixing was that its outcome, the coloured body, was favoured by white, because of esthetical reasons, by black for reasons of social climbing, and at the same time both looked down upon the coloured population intensely. Furthermore, examples are given of the tortured as well as the resistant enslaved body. Eventually, when slavery was abolished in 1863, the enslaved black body turned out to have internalised a number of white elements as well as the other way around. The biggest paradox of all was that despite having made the enslaved body as the ultimate other, the white body could not do without it.