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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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The Ontology of Play

The Ontology of Play

Mimicry and the Counterculture of Taste

(p.233) 6 The Ontology of Play
Slavery and the Culture of Taste

Simon Gikandi

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that whether they were produced in defiance or imitation of the culture of taste, the works of art imagined and implemented by slaves, from buildings to dances and festivals, enabled the enslaved to redefine their relation to time and space, to reconstitute their own bodies and social relationships outside the shadow of their masters, and thus to display bodies that were not mere chattel. The animatedness of the slave in festival, the explosiveness of the body, the celebration of excess, was at odds with all the assumptions that governed white taste and polite behavior, the essence of Englishness and modern identity. In positioning itself against the norms of polite behavior and its regimes of controlled or regulated feelings, the slaves' negative sensorium became one of the most important arsenals in the making of the black self.

Keywords:   slaves, slavery, culture, taste, art, festival, black self

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