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Reclaiming the Body of the ‘Hottentot’

[journal article]

Netto, Priscilla

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Abstract The primary focus of this article is a reading of Venus Hottentot 2000, a performance-text that reperforms the hyperbolization of Black female sexuality. In using the corporeality of the Black body as a strategic site of postcolonial resignification, this performance is moreover an interrogation of the colonial gaze that has fetishized the Black body. In foregrounding Venus Hottentot 2000 as a point of departure for exploration, the article proceeds by delving broadly into the representational history of the ‘Hottentot’ female. Furthermore, to facilitate an understanding of the constitutive power of the colonial gaze and the possibilities of subverting and displacing that gaze from that of a postcolonial diasporic aesthetic practice, the article frames the postcolonial feminist reading of Venus Hottentot 2000 via an investigation of the processes by which the ‘Hottentot’ female has been festishized and scopically objectified within colonial discourse - processes whereby the ‘Hottentot’ female became a signifier of Black female sexuality. The article concludes by reading this performance as an example of a postcolonial ‘cultural war of positioning’, which offers moreover a contemporary rescripting of Black subjectivity.
Free Keywords Black female sexuality; the gaze; Hottentot; Lacan; performance; postcolonialism; subjectivity;
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 149-163
Journal European Journal of Women's Studies, 12 (2005) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)