By John E. Korasick
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Additional info for Collecting Africa: African Material Culture Displays and the American Image of Africa, 1885-1930 (Phd. Thesis)
However, “l’enfant rose, malgré ses pommettes saillantes malgré ses yeux bridés et sa bouille ronde, devint il faut dire noir” (11) [the pink child, despite his chubby cheeks, despite his “folded” eyes and his round face, became, it has to be told, black”] [my emphases]. I read this return of/to blackness in the body of the narrator’s father, which literally enacts the differentiating, diffracting quality of creolization, to be emblematic of the betrayal of whiteness (and consequently of “white” citizenship).
Yet, in telling this story of amnesia, the narrator prevents the “flat” reading, suggested by Vergès, of her family’s history through a naming that is at once, obviously “racial” (negress, métisse), as well as situational (great granddaughter of a slave), both aspects becoming pertinently historical. Historical, in the sense that the explanation of her métissage as not being truly a negress, requires an examination of this history. The specifics of her “black” heritage are given through the explanation regarding her being the great granddaughter of a slave.
And my brother, one would say he was a big doll, he was so white and chubby. Behind her, a small, lace curtain. A ray of sunlight enters the house. It was her small house of shingles that my father had bought in P’tit Serre, there high up, which he took down and put back up from scratch in Saint-Pierre, there down below. 3 The photograph in all its precision captures the here and now by enumerating the cluster of acquired bourgeois signs (her dress, her glasses, her home, and the garden). ”4 It is antiquarian because it seems to want to preserve this beautiful memory: the grandmother who hardly resembles a 22 Hybridity descendant of slaves and the white doll-like grandson.