“And history is how the secular world attends to the dead.”
–Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother
I’ve finished one of the six books on my winter break reading list: Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. I received this book from A.K.F. to inspire me to finish my comprehensive exams. Since those are done (passed!) I am finally getting around to the books I want to read.
At first I was skeptical. Hartman also wrote Scenes of Subjection which I’d heard was a history of slavery and African-American roots tourism that emphasized rupture, dislocation, and anonymity over resistance, resilience, and return. I knew that Lose Your Mother was more speculative, more of a neo-slave narrative. I’d heard her read a chapter at an African diaspora conference at Duke University. But I don’t agree with the we-are-so-lost-and-have-lost-so-much construction of African diaspora history. So I’d–foolishly–never actually picked her book up.