"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
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
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.
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