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Slavery and the Culture of Taste$
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Simon Gikandi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691140667

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691140667.001.0001

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Sensibility in the Age of Slavery

(p.1) 1 Overture
Slavery and the Culture of Taste

Simon Gikandi

Princeton University Press

This chapter reflects on the character and shape of sensibility in the age of slavery. It explores how ideas and ideals about taste and beauty demanded powerful counterpoints built around notions of black difference. Focusing on British debates on the question of taste and the role of culture in the shaping of modern identity and the reality of enslavement and its objects, the chapter considers how some of the most important ideas of bourgeois culture—namely, art and freedom—were mapped and haunted by their contaminating danger, manifestly represented by the racialized black body. The chapter also locates the author's work within changing debates on empire and the symbolic economy of slavery.

Keywords:   slavery, slaves, sensibility, taste, beauty, black difference, bourgeois culture

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