Deb Willis
Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot"
Temple University Press, 2010
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Her name was Sarah Baartman. Born in South Africa in 1789, she died in Paris in 1815—after five years of being displayed (sometimes in a cage) for entertainment and scientific study; her pickled buttocks and genitalia remained on public display at the Musée de l'Homme until 1974 and her remains were finally returned to South Africa in 2002. During her period of fame and exploitation, she was known as the Hottentot Venus. Willis (Posing Beauty) offers a comprehensive, inclusive, and coherently organized anthology that embraces scholarly and lyrical, historical and reflexive responses to Baartman, as a woman, as a black woman, as an object, as an icon, as an inspiration to creative artists, and as a catalyst to scholars. The book moves from Baartman's life and times to an assessment of the figure of the Hottentot Venus in contemporary art and a broader consideration of the historic public display of black women. Appended is a photo gallery that is as essential and diverse as the texts. This remarkable volume satisfies the academic reader with scholarly essays and moves the general reader with its creative expression, making it fascinating and accessible to any one.
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