"A tiger will perhaps tear you to pieces, but he will not steal your life": the politics of animal use in Barbara Chase-Riboud's Hottentot Venus: a novel

Title: "A tiger will perhaps tear you to pieces, but he will not steal your life": the politics of animal use in Barbara Chase-Riboud's Hottentot Venus: a novel
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2016, vol. 42, iss. 2, pp. [35]-55
Extent
[35]-55
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Abstract(s)
One of the most emotionally and politically charged features of Barbara Chase-Riboud's 2003 neo-Victorian biofiction is the laying bare of the mechanism of commercial and scientific animalization of a human being in the context of both colonized Africa and early nineteenth-century Europe, in addition to examining the limits of individual resistance to it. While focusing on specific – racialized and hypersexualized – humans who are animalized, the novel employs nonhuman animals primarily as symbols and stereotypes: only occasionally are they recognized as living and breathing victims of capitalist-imperialist commodification. The paper examines the many uses of animals in the novel in order to discuss the politics of their treatment in the framework of Chase-Riboud's passionate commitment to feminist anti-imperialism.
References
[1] Adams, Carol (2010) The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York and London: Continuum.

[2] Bekoff, Marc and Dale Jamieson (eds.) (1996) Readings in Animal Cognition. Cambridge and London: the MIT Press.

[3] Bekoff, Marc and Jessica Pierce (2010) Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[4] Bennett, Tony (1988) 'The Exhibitionary Complex'. New Formations 4, 73–102.

[5] Best, Steven (2009) 'The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education'. Journal for Critical Animal Studies 7 (1), 9–52.

[6] Bradley, Keith (2000) 'Animalizing the Slave: The Truth of Fiction'. The Journal of Roman Studies 90, 110–125. | DOI 10.1017/S007543580003135X

[7] Butler, Judith (2006) 'Violence, Non-Violence: Sartre on Fanon'. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 27 (1), 3–24. | DOI 10.5840/gfpj200627122

[8] Butler, Judith and Athena Athanasiou (2013) Dispossession: The Performative in the Political. Cambridge: Polity.

[9] Chase-Riboud, Barbara (2004) Hottentot Venus: A Novel. New York: Anchor Books.

[10] Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2015) Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau.

[11] Crenshaw, Kimberlé (1991) 'Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence against Women of Color'. Stanford Law Review 43, 1241–1299. | DOI 10.2307/1229039

[12] Day, Iyko (2015) 'Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Antiblackness, and Settler Colonial Critique'. Critical Ethnic Studies 1 (2), 102–121. | DOI 10.5749/jcritethnstud.1.2.0102

[13] De Waal, Frans (2014) The Bonobo and the Atheist in Search of Humanism Among the Primates. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company.

[14] Freccero, Carla, and Claire Jean Kim (2013) 'Introduction: A Dialogue'. American Quarterly 65 (3), 461–479. | DOI 10.1353/aq.2013.0041

[15] Heilmann, Ann and Mark Llewellyn (2010) Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the Twenty-First Century 1999–2009. Houndsmills and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

[16] Hennessy, Rosemary (2000) Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism. London and New York: Routledge.

[17] Hill Collins, Patricia (1993) 'Pornography and Black Women's Bodies'. In: Russell, Diana E. H. (ed.) Making Violence Sexy: Feminist Views on Pornography. Teachers College Press, 97–105.

[18] Holman, Sheri (2000) The Dress Lodger. Sceptre.

[19] Iannaccaro, Giuliana (2015) 'Whose Trauma? Discursive Practices in Saartjie Baartman's Literary Afterlives'. Available online at: http://www.openstarts.units.it/dspace/bitstream/10077/11868/5/Prospero_20_2015_Iannaccaro.pdf. [Accessed on 3/4/2016]

[20] Kent, Hannah (2013) Burial Rites. Little, Brown and Company.

[21] Kohlke, Marie-Luise (2013) 'Neo-Victorian Biofiction and the Special/Spectral Case of Barbara Chase-Riboud's Hottentot Venus'. Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies 18 (3), 4–21. Available online at: http://openjournals.library.usyd.edu.au/index.php/AJVS/article/view/9382. [Accessedon 3/18/2016]

[22] Lopez, Patricia and Kathryn Gillespie (2015) 'Introducing Economies of Death'. In: Lopez, Patricia and Kathryn Gillespie (eds.) Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life and Grievable Death. London and New York: Routledge, 1–13.

[23] Lowe, Lisa (2015) The Intimacies of Four Continents. Duke University Press.

[24] Lundblad, Michael (2013) The Birth of a Jungle: Animality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture. Oxford University Press.

[25] McClintock, Anne (1995) Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York and London: Routledge.

[26] Nixon, Rob (2011) Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press.

[27] Oliver, Kelly (2007) 'Stopping the Anthropological Machine: Agamben with Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty'. PhaenEx 2 (2), 1–23. | DOI 10.22329/p.v2i2.236

[28] Olson, Greta (2013) Criminals as Animals from Shakespeare to Lombroso. De Gruyter.

[29] Oyewumi, Oyeronke (2005) 'Colonizing Bodies and Minds'. In: Ashcroft, Bill et al. (eds.) The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 256–9.

[30] Plumwood, Val (1994) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London and New York: Routledge.

[31] Rogers, Lesley J. (1997) Minds of Their Own: Thinking and Awareness in Animals. Westview Press.

[32] Romero Ruiz, Maria Isabel (2013) 'The Hottentot Venus, Freak Shows and the neo-Victorian: Rewriting the Identity of the Sexual Black Body'. Odisea 14, 137–152.

[33] Rothfels, Nigel (2008) Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

[34] Rushdie, Salman (1991) Imaginary Homelands. London: Granta Books.

[35] Scott, Monique (2007) Rethinking Evolution in Museum: Envisioning African Origins. London and New York: Routledge.

[36] Sorenson, John (2008) 'Monsters: The Case of Marineland'. In: Castricano, Jodey (ed.) Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman World. Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 195–221.

[37] Tate, Shirley Anne (2015) Black Women's Bodies and The Nation: Race, Gender and Culture. Houndsmills and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

[38] Taylor, Christopher (2015) 'Book Review: Neil Lazarus, The Political Unconscious'. Modern Philology 112 (4), E339–E345.

[39] Weheliye, Alexander (2014) Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Duke University Press.

[40] Willis, Deborah (2010) Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot". Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

[41] Wistrich, Robert S. (1999) Demonizing the Other: Antisemitism, Racism and Xenophobia. Taylor&Francis.

[42] Wolfe, Cary (2003) Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species and Posthumanist Theory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.