Creole Stories and the Suspension of the Human
This chapter discusses the forms of body and personhood that Afro-Americans produced in the American tropics. It argues that the term parahuman describes American slaves’ categorization as neither human nor animal. Through an analysis of a collection of Creole stories, this experience of parahumanity testifies to modes of self that did not simply critique the category of the human that was unevenly available to them but also suspended it. The various Creole stories manage to go against the dominant Enlightenment era notion that places the human being as the apotheosis of natural historical and cultural processes. They challenge the prevailing notion that the Enlightenment was the period that witnessed the ascendency and ubiquity of the modern conception of the human. The chapter also argues that the Afro-Americans’ experiences of the body, such as the brutal colonial circumstance of dismemberment and bodily disaggregation, contributed to forging minoritarian enlightenment traditions.
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