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Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America

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The groundbreaking debut by the award-winning author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, revised and updated.

Saidiya Hartman has been praised as “one of our most brilliant contemporary thinkers” (Claudia Rankine, New York Times Book Review) and “a lodestar for a generation of students and, increasingly, for politically engaged people outside the academy” (Alexis Okeowo, The New Yorker). In Scenes of Subjection—Hartman’s first book, now revised and expanded—her singular talents and analytical framework turn away from the “terrible spectacle” and toward the forms of routine terror and quotidian violence characteristic of slavery, illuminating the intertwining of injury, subjugation, and selfhood even in abolitionist depictions of enslavement. By attending to the withheld and overlooked at the margins of the historical archive, Hartman radically reshapes our understanding of history, in a work as resonant today as it was on first publication, now for a new generation of readers.

This 25th anniversary edition features a new preface by the author, a foreword by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an afterword by Marisa J. Fuentes and Sarah Haley, notations with Cameron Rowland, and compositions by Torkwase Dyson.

ISBN-13: 9781324021582

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Norton W. W. & Company Inc.

Publication Date: 10-25-2022

Pages: 560

Product Dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Saidiya Hartman is the author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Lose Your Mother, Scenes of Subjection. She has been a MacArthur Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She is a University Professor at Columbia University and lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Foreword Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor xiii

Preface: The Hold of Slavery xxix

Introduction 1

Human Flesh 3

Metamorphosis 5

Figurative Capacities 8

A Note on Method 11

I Formations of Terror and Enjoyment

1 Innocent Amusements: The Stage of Suffering 21

The Property of Enjoyment 32

(In) suffer able Pleasures 36

The Coffle 48

Disavowing the Claims of Pain 55

The Pleasant Path 65

Fraught Pleasures 74

Notation: Transit in the Flesh, On Being the Object of Property 78

2 Redressing the Pained Body: Toward a Theory of Practice 81

The Centrality of Practice 83

The Closures of Sentiment 86

The Character of Practice 90

Performing Blackness 93

Defamiliarizing the "Negro's Enjoyment" 98

Politics without a Proper Locus 103

Stealing Away, the Space of Struggle, and the Nonautonomy of Practice 110

Embodied Needs and the Politics of Hunger us Memory and History 121

The Body of Memory 127

Redress::How the Broken Body Moves 129

Notation: Black Antagonism 134

3 Seduction and the Ruses of Power 137

The Violence of the Law 141

The Bonds of Affection 150

A Brutal Hand, a Yielding Heart The Measure of Humanity 165

Rape and Other Offenses to Existence The Shadow of the Law 178

The Narrative of Seduction: Slave and Paramour 181

The Seduction of the Reader 184

Deliberate Calculation 191

II The Subject of Freedom

4 The Burdened Individuality of Freedom 201

Notation: Cycles of Accumulation and Dispossession 218

5 Fashioning Obligation: Indebted Servitude and the Legacy of Slavery 221

Idle Concerns 223

The Debt of Emancipation 230

The Encumbrance of Freedom 236

Possession by Contract 242

The Will and the Whip 247

Unbecoming Conduct 256

Every Man Is a Master 268

A Curious Domesticity, an Uncertain Form 278

Proximate Dangers, Habitual Intercourse 285

6 Instinct and Injury: The Just and Perfect Inequality of the Color Line 291

An Obscurity Blacker Than Poverty 299

The Ambivalence of Freedom 304

The Most Representative Person, or a Man Like Any Other 310

Blood and Sentiment 323

The Place of Race 337

Plessy v. Ferguson 341

An Asylum of Inequality 354

Notation: Theses on the Nonevent of Emancipation or the Graphic Registers of a Moan 364

Afterword Marisa J. Fuentes Sarah Haley 369

Acknowledgments 379

Postscript for the New Edition 381

Notes 385

Selected Bibliography 455

Annotations 484

Index 491