Saartjie Baartman, Nelisiwe Xaba, and me: the politics of looking at South African bodies

Article


Castelyn, S. 2018. Saartjie Baartman, Nelisiwe Xaba, and me: the politics of looking at South African bodies. South African Theatre Journal. 32 (3), pp. 285-299. https://doi.org/10.1080/10137548.2018.1553625
AuthorsCastelyn, S.
Abstract

Dance Artist/Choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba’s They Look at Me and That Is All They Think (2006) ‘refers to the story of Sara[tjie] Baartman […] the “Hottentot Venus”’ (2006. 9th Jomba! Contemporary dance experience 2006 programme, p. 7) who was taken from her homeland South Africa, and exhibited in Europe in the nineteenth century. After Baartman died in 1815, her remains were displayed in a museum in Paris until 1982. Xaba parallels the story of Baartman to her own experience of performing in Europe as a black South African woman. This article considers how They Look at Me and That Is All They Think exposes the politics surrounding the act of looking at a particular racial and gendered body in both the historical and contemporary context, and how the concept and articulation of the ‘superior’ European subject was dependent on the classification of Baartman, and other black Africans, as exotic others. In my practice-based research project How I Chased a Rainbow And Bruised My Knee (2007), which was a choreographic response to Xaba’s work, I theatricalize my identity as a white South African woman to make visible whiteness, its associated privilege, and how it is dependent on the representation of a particular type of blackness.

JournalSouth African Theatre Journal
Journal citation32 (3), pp. 285-299
ISSN1013-7548
Year2018
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/10137548.2018.1553625
Publication dates
Online21 Dec 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited11 Feb 2019
Accepted27 Nov 2018
Accepted27 Nov 2018
FunderArts and Humanities Research Council
University of East London
Queen Mary University of London
Arts and Humanities Research Council
University of East London
Queen Mary University of London
Copyright information© 2018 Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in South African Theatre Journal on 21/12/2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10137548.2018.1553625.
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