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Hottentot Venus

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Ms. Kimberly Ryan Kirk

Book Review #1 Tuesday Feb. 9, 2010 3:30-4:45

Crais Scully, Clifton and Pamela. Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Crais and Scully, have meticulously and skillfully pieced together the life and times of Sara or Sartjee Baartman. The Authors have given us insight as to whom Sara Baartman the Gonaqua woman was opposed to the Hottentot Venus that she was worldly famous for. For centuries Sara Baartman has embodied westerner's ideologies of the primitive, savage, and uncivilized Africans. The ghost of Sara Baartman will forever haunt history and our present day lives as long as beliefs in racial supremacy and anti-feminist theories are supported by her very existence.

Crais and Scully, are both currently professors at Emory University. Clifton Crais received his B.A. from The University of Maryland and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. Crais is also the author of The Politics of Evil: Magic, Power and the Political Imagination in South Africa and White Supremacy and Black Resistance in Pre-Industrial South Africa: The Making of the Colonial Order in the Eastern Cape. Pamela Scully, is the professor of women's studies and has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan and is the author of Liberating the Family? Gender and the British Slave Emancipation in Rural Western Cape South Africa. Crais and Scully's similar interest in African and Women's studies have produced a well written and descriptive biography of Sara Baartman.

Crais and Scully, wanted to depict Baartman differently than previous scholars did at the time of her life. The only importance Baartman had to them was the small period of time she spent in Europe and the few interviews that were probably paraphrased

Ms. Kimberly Ryan Kirk

Book Review #1 Tuesday Feb. 9 2010 3:30- 4:45

Crais and Scully said " Fixing Sara Baartman within the conventional genre of biography raise fundamental questions about how we know what we know and how we write about people whose lives traversed so many geographies and different cultural worlds."(Crais Scully 2008 pg. 5) Crais and Scully also stated "This book is about discovery, about what might have happened, and about the extraordinary power of people's imaginations. It's also about letting go, another burial of sorts.(Crais Scully 2008 pg. 6)

Sara Baartman was said to have been born in 1789 but she was really born in the 1770s in a region called the Camdeboo. This was a period when the modern world was taking the region and it inhabitants by storm. When she was a child her parents were living on Baartman's Fonteyn owned by David Fourie. Later her family moved on to Cornelius Muller's farm due to the death of David Fourier . While on Muller's farms both Sara's parents died shortly after each other leaving Sara and her brothers and sisters to take care of themselves. After Muller's death Sara was brought to Cape Town by Pieter Cesars the employee of Jan Michiel Elzer a local and prominent butcher of high society. Sara Baartman would spend ten years in Cape Town as the servant to both Cesars and Elzer also performing duties as a wet nurse. After Jan Michael Elzer's death Sara moved into Pieter Cesars small house with his wife and children. Sara would not stay at Pieter's house long, after the death of his wife Pieter sent Sara to live with his brother Hendrik, it is here that Sara's life would be changed forever. Economic downturn of the Batavian rule caused Hendrik and his wife Anna to borrow vast amounts of money from a Jacobus

Ms. Kimberly Ryan Kirk

Book review#1 Tuesday Feb.9 2010 3:30-4:45

Johannes Vos. Hendrik's inability to pay Vos back the money he was lended caused Anna and him to think of other ways to make money, and what a better way to do it than exploiting your own slave. Hendriks began showing Sara to the sick sailors. "According to Anna Sara would "show herself" to those who wished to see her"(Crais Scully 2008 pg.50) It is here that the Hottentot Venus was born. A military doctor, by the name of Alexander Dunlop makes a contract with Henrik's to show the Hottentot Venus to the world. Sara Baartman refused to go to Europe without Hendrik, and Hendrik was blackmailed into accepting the contract that did not specify any monetary gain for him or Sara Baartman. Arriving in England Dunlop, Hendrik Sara and the boys from the Slave Lodge lived in a Duke apartment. In England people would pay two shillings to view the Hottentot Venus, they would stare at her and even could get close enough to touch her butt. Hendrik was the ringmaster encouraging their audiences to come closer and ordering Sara to bend over for the men in the front Rows to examine her better. Sara was always cold and wore little clothing at all.

The Hottentot Venus would come across a Zachary Macaulay a leading abolitionist in those days. Macaulay was interested in how the Hottentot Venus managed to get to England and wanted to



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