Gender and Violence in Cape Slave Narratives and Post-Narratives

Jessica Murray
2010 South African Historical Journal  
Although most slaves" experience of slavery is lost to posterity, in some cases historians are fortunate enough to work with so-called slave narratives. The existence of many criminal court cases enables the historian to hear the voice of the slave clearlyalbeit briefly and under strained circumstances. Recently some work has been done on these slave cases, but not in terms of narratives. Likewise, there is a new interest in postnarratives dealing with Cape slavery, but nobody has as yet
more » ... ed these modern reincarnations with the earlier historical narratives. This article, then, explores Cape slave narratives and post-narratives by focusing on the ways in which the bodies of slave women become the sites on which both physical and discursive violence is enacted. The nature of available texts necessitates a reading strategy that teases out information from the gaps and silences in the narratives in an attempt to reveal the variegated texture of the lived experience of slave women in eighteenth-century South Africa. The article demonstrates how the violent experiences of slave women, and the resultant trauma, complicate a clear-cut distinction between fact and fiction. Through a juxtaposition of court records and a fictional post-narrative, the article uses a literary reading to access women"s stories.
doi:10.1080/02582473.2010.519896 fatcat:zkvdg3ntxjg5bffa6xjovwcx7i