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Title:Sara Baartman and Andries Stoffels: violence, law and the politics of spectacle in London and the Eastern Cape, 1809-1836
Author:Elbourne, ElizabethISNI
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies (ISSN 0008-3968)
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Subjects:offences against human rights
colonial conquest
About persons:Sarah Baartman (1789-1816)ISNI
Andries Stoffels
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00083968.2011.10541067
Abstract:This article contrasts the well-known display of Sara Baartman, exhibited in London and Paris under the rubric the 'Hottentot Venus', with the 1835-1836 visit to Britain for political ends of Andries Stoffels, a Khoekhoe Christian convert who testified before the House of Commons Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements). It places both visits in the context of legal reform and violence in the Cape Colony in the early nineteenth century. Both visits can be fruitfully re-read as reflecting South African struggles over control of the Khoekhoe body, the rule of colonial law, and emerging ideas of human rights. Baartman was displayed as an iconic body in a legal context in which (mostly white) masters coerced Khoekhoe labourers and claimed the right to control their bodies. Stoffels displayed himself as a Christian convert to eager evangelical audiences, in a context in which legal reform depended on the putative erasure of difference, even as racial tension persisted in significant ways. The article suggests that the history of human rights is closely tied to the history of colonialism. It also, however, argues that members of Baartman's community responded to, and fought, the conditions that led to her display and that Baartman should not be understood in isolation from that community. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]