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The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of by Andrew S. Curran

By Andrew S. Curran

This quantity examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in ecu idea. Andrew S. Curran rewrites the historical past of blackness by way of replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and ecu travelogues, traditional histories, works of anatomy, seasoned- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran indicates how naturalists and philosophes drew from commute literature to debate the perceived challenge of human blackness in the nascent human sciences, describes how a couple of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s knowing of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the ethical, mercantile, and theological nation-states towards that of the "black physique" itself. In tracing this evolution, he indicates how blackness replaced from an insignificant descriptor in previous classes right into a factor to be measured, dissected, dealt with, and infrequently brutalized. Penetrating and entire, The Anatomy of Blackness indicates that, faraway from being a monolithic concept, eighteenth-century Africanist discourse emerged out of a lively, various discussion that concerned missionaries, slavers, colonists, naturalists, anatomists, philosophers, and Africans themselves.

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Prince Henry himself never ventured to West Africa—on the monument he holds a miniature caravel, not a sextant—but his vision, oversight, and financing of the early voyages inaugurated a new era in the relationship between Europeans and the continent’s black inhabitants. Under Henry’s tenure, Gil Eanes crossed the daunting Cape Bojador in 1434, Dinis Dias met the inhabitants of what he called Cabo Verde (modern Cap-Vert in Senegal) in 1444, and Pedro de Sintra landed in Sierra Leone in 1460. During this time, Portugal also began importing what would become a significant African slave population.

47 This fear of a “deluge” of blacks was, as Sue Peabody has demonstrated, more paranoia than anything else. 48 African-French demographics reflect one of the fundamental realities of the discourse on Africans during this era: excluding the geographically isolated white inhabitants of the Caribbean—who lived as a privileged minority within much larger black populations—the vast majority of the (primarily rural) French population probably never saw or met an African. Indeed, to the extent that people living in France were familiar with the so-called nègre, most inhabitants of the mother country surely derived their “information” from word of mouth and/or the era’s written and visual representations of Africans.

32 The glory days of this empire had come to an end by 1591, but Leo’s account of the great riches of Timbuktu nonetheless lived on well past the fall of the Songhai. 33 Rationalizing Africa Leo Africanus’s Descrittione ushered in a new era during which authors supplemented first-hand accounts of black Africa with more comprehensive attempts at understanding and interpreting difference on its own terms. 34 Like Leo Africanus’s text on North Africa and the Niger Delta, Lopes’s Report—which was based on its author’s experience in the region as both slave trader and, toward the end of his stay, as ambassador for the king of the Kongo—was a marked departure from episodic travelogues on the Kongo region.

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