This article argues that Freud’s account of binary sexual difference, articulated in the Oedipus complex, is conditioned by a history of racial capitalism. Turning to the foundational work of Hortense Spillers on gender and Atlantic race slavery, this article proposes that dominant models of binary gender are ineluctably racialized, created by the property regimes and systemic sexual violence of colonial modernity that emerged in the Atlantic World of the eighteenth century—a space defined by the structures of labor, race, sexuality, and capital accumulation that developed in and around the first factories of the modern world, namely, the sugar plantations of the colonial Caribbean. The article links Freud’s own economic and intellectual history to the production of capital and the theft of land and labor in the Caribbean by way of the central European trade in textiles and global cotton production. Examining a series of family portraits, the article locates the eclipsed yet central force of Black women’s productive and socially reproductive work extracted for the creation of white, heteropatriarchal reproduction and property accumulation.

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