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This chapter takes up the question of sentient flesh through a consideration of the freedman Tom Windham’s remark “We should have our liberty ’cause . . . us is human flesh.” It discusses the conflict between the subjectivity of negrophilic ethnography and that which is both exposited and exhibited by Windham himself. This subjectivity is indicative of a taxonomy of being that differs from the one utilized by the ethnographer by holding the flesh as paramount. Windham’s “us is human flesh” challenges the Aristotelean distinction between free rational humans and animality, by proffering an understanding of being flesh as entitlement enough to liberty. Carefully reading Hortense Spillers’s exploration of the relationship between fleshliness and persona enables me to show that rather than giving temporal primacy to flesh as the stolen sign, Windham’s statement presumes that meaning and form are expressed contemporaneously: body and person are with and not before or even after the flesh.

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