Callaloo 40(4), p. 113-126 (2017); doi:10.1353/cal.2017.0138
The institution of slavery was motivated by the production of wealth and the enrichment of a few over devastating costs of a majority, and justified through a rhetoric of dehumanization that constructed slaves as mere objects of commercial exchange. In this paper I will focus on Joan Anim-Addo’s short story “Daughter and His Housekeeper" (2008) and Andrea Levy’s novel The Long Song (2010) as narratives that disrupt traditional representations of slavery and colonial exploitation by putting an emphasis on the significance of emotional wealth rather than on the mere accumulation of possessions. Levy’s and Anim-Addo’s works combat the epistemic violence surrounding depiction of enslaved women in dominant discourses of slavery by giving the authoritative voices to women who (re)inscribe their silenced account of their herstories of slavery. I propose to examine the female characters’ abilities to open alternative emotional spaces in order to counter the devastating real spaces surrounding them. In particular, I shall explore the space opened up through maternal love, which becomes the driving force behind their heroic deeds of survival. Finally, I shall examine how these women question and at the same time reject through their narratives an external an imposed historical account of their positioning within the social fabric of slavery, portraying, by extension, the elusiveness of historical facts as traditionally understood.