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Between Fitness and DeathDisability and Slavery in the Caribbean$
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Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043192

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043192.001.0001

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Imagining Africa, Inheriting Monstrosity

Imagining Africa, Inheriting Monstrosity

Gender, Blackness, and Capitalism in the Early Atlantic World

(p.13) Chapter 1 Imagining Africa, Inheriting Monstrosity
Between Fitness and Death

Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

University of Illinois Press

This chapter traces the intellectual, legal, and anthropological processes by which the English transformed the concept of blackness into a collective, inheritable, and racial monstrosity, a category of being that made Africans, and in particular African women, supposedly “fit” for servitude. The English notion that Africans were monstrous and deformed beings suspended Africans in the space between the human and the animal, enabling colonists to exploit Africans’ humanity by enforcing forms of disablement onto the enslaved. The place of monstrosity in the emergence of slavery and antiblack racism is key to understanding the historically entwined construction of racism and ableism in the Atlantic World.

Keywords:   blackness, inheritance, monstrosity, animal, Africans, deformity, slavery, racism, ableism, Atlantic world

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