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In early capitalism, power harnessed the excess or surplus of the real to engender, transgress, and possess, to allow life and mete out death. Yet nocturnal power—as killing power, arising from a pact with the dead—was antagonized by the ghostly figure of the Black slave as both unfinished humanity and shadowy presence. The human, plastic in body and spirit, survived by metamorphosis, by becoming someone other than himself. Tansi’s La vie et demie and Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts reveal the potential for both destruction and regeneration residing within the ghost. The human...

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