Illegible Will: Coercive Spectacles of Labor in South Africa and the Diaspora
Returning to Hankey: Sarah Baartman and Endless Repatriations
This chapter begins with the repatriation of the body of Sarah Baartman, known to many as the Venus Hottentot. It thinks through the ascription of meaning that her burial accrues, particularly around the reading of her will that, I argue, remains ultimately illegible. The chapter then goes on to analyze the court case that the African Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior of Africa brought against her exhibitors in 1810, whom they claimed had enslaved her. Complicating the binary between free and enslaved labor, I place Baartman within a genealogy of the freak show and slave auction to imaginatively read for her will in stray gestures.