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'Archival Violence: An Ethnography of (Un)Archiving Enslaved Gender-Variant West Africans'

Hamzić, Vanja (2017) 'Archival Violence: An Ethnography of (Un)Archiving Enslaved Gender-Variant West Africans'. In: Biennial Conference, Society for the Anthropology of Religion, May 2017, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Anglo-American archive of the trans-Atlantic slave trade has been described as an agonism (Kazanjian, 2016). On the one hand, as Saidiya Hartman suggests, what little remains of the official records of the lifeworlds of the enslaved is akin to 'a death sentence, a tomb, a display of the violated body' (Hartman, 2008) and their perusal—their coming to a 'second life' in academic studies—often constitutes an act of violence in its own right toward both the living and the dead. On the other hand, as this paper will argue, the absences and silences produced in the specifically Anglo-American science of archiving are often deliberate, and account for premeditated acts of oblivion and violent memory-making. This paper critically interrogates archival violence through an ethnography of the records—and the lack thereof—of gender-variant slaves who were—or may have been—shipped from Africa to antebellum Louisiana. It accounts for the vestiges of their faith and timescales both before and after the horrors of the Middle Passage, as a novel meditation on both the archaeology and anthropology of time (cf. Gell, 2001).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
Regional Centres and Institutes > Centre of African Studies
Depositing User: Vanja Hamzic
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2017 18:05
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/24528

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