Trauma in Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship

  • Nahro Othman Maulood College of Languages / Salahaddin University-Erbil
  • Shirzad Shafi’ Babo Barzani College of Language / Salahaddin University-Erbil
Keywords: Slave ship, transatlantic slave trade, trauma theory, victims’ memory

Abstract

Baraka’s Slave Ship (1967) reenacts historical scenes of transatlantic slave trade, which lasted more than three centuries, and scenes from the Southern plantations. This study shows that the horrendous condition of the ship hold in addition to the brutality of the slave traders resulted in the affliction of the enslaved Africans with trauma. It will attempt to examine the play through the lens of Literary Trauma Theory which appeared in the middle of 1990s, henceforth it has been developed by so many scholars, and the latest revision is proposed by Joshua Pederson in 2014. The first wave of the theorists claim that trauma causes amnesia for the victims; they cannot remember nor describe what they have experienced, but Pederson in his revised edition of the theory proposes otherwise. Two methods are used to approach the text of the play through literary trauma theory; first, examining the invisible post-traumatic narrators’ memory and then by connecting the text of the play with Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative. Equiano, who is the founder of the slave narrative genre, suffered from firsthand slave ship’s trauma.

References

Allvin, R. (2014). Making Connections: Sankofa. YC Young Children, 69 (1), pp. 40-41.
Bailey, A. C. (2005) African voices of the Atlantic slave trade: Beyond the silence and the shame. Boston: Beacon Press.
Bangura, A. K. (2017). Culpability of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Multidisciplinary Primer. New York: Hamilton Books.
Baraka, A. (1969) The Slave Ship: A historical pageant. New Jersy: Jiahad Productions.
Baraka, A. (2009) Digging the Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Barden, K.P. (2013) Remembering the cultural trauma legacies of slavery: African American young adult perceptions on racism, ethnic identity, and racial socialization. PhD dissertation. Loyola University Chicago.
Barndt, J. (2007) Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Berlin, I. (2003) The first two centuries of slavery in North America. London: Harvard University Press.
Billingsley A. and Billingsley A. T. (1965) Negro Family Life in America. Social Service Review, 39 (3), pp. 310-319.
Blight D. W. (2006) If you don’t tell it like it was, It Can Never Be as It Ought to Be, In: Horton, J. & Horton L. (eds.) Slavery and public history: the tough stuff of American memory. The University of North Carolina Press.
Bogues, A. (2010) Empire of liberty: power, desire, and freedom. Hanover: University Press of New England.
Breen, P. H. (2016). The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Oxford University Press.
Bressler, Ch. E. (2011). Literary criticism: An introduction to theory and practice. New Jersey: Pearson.
Brison, S. J. (2002). Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self. Princeton University Press.
Brogan, K. (1995). American Stories of Cultural Haunting: Tales of Heirs and Ethnographers. College English, 57(2), pp. 149-165.
Brown, K. (2011) Poxed and Scurvied: The Story of Sickness & Health at Sea. Seaforth Publishing.
Burnard, T., and Heuman, G. (Eds.) (2011) The Routledge History of Slavery. London: Routledge.
Carretta, V. (2007) Olaudah Equiano: African British abolitionist and founder of the African American slave narrative, In: Fisch, A. (ed.) The Cambridge companion to African American slave narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Caruth, C. (1991). Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Trauma and Culture II. American Imago, 48(4), pp. 417- 424.
Caruth, C. (ed) (1995) Explorations in memory. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Caruth, C. (1996) Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cluck, N. A. (1979). Showing or Telling: Narrators in the Drama of Tennessee Williams. American Literature, 51(1), pp. 84-93.
Curtin, Philip D. (1992) The slavery hypothesis for hypertension among African Americans: the historical evidence, American Journal of Public Health, 82 (12), pp. 1681–1686.
Dancyger, K., & Rush, J. (2013). Alternative scriptwriting: Beyond the Hollywood formula. Focal Press.
Danzer G, Rieger, S, Schubmehl, S & Cort, D (2016) White psychologists and African Americans’ historical trauma: implications for Practice, Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 25,(4), pp. 351–370.
DeGruy, J. (2005) Post traumatic slave syndrome: America's legacy of enduring injury and healing. Milwaukie, OR: Uptone Press.
De Mey, L. (2012) The representation of trauma in Shira Nayman’s Awake in the Dark and The Listener. MA Thesis. Ghent University.
Dragulescu, L. M. (2018). The Middle Passage and Race-Based Trauma, In: Kurtz, J. (ed.) Trauma and Literature. Philadelphia: Drexel University.
Drescher, S. (2009) The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Holocaust: A Comparative analysis, In: Rosenbaum, A. (ed.) Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on comparative genocide. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Published by Westview Press.
Dubois. The Meaning of the symbolism of the Sankofa bird. W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center [Oline]. Available at: http://www.duboislc.net/SankofaMeaning.html (Accessed: 10 April 2018).
Duggan, P. (2007) Feeling Performance, Remembering Trauma, Platform, 2 (2), pp. 44 – 58.
Duggan P. & Wallis, M. (2011) Trauma and performance: maps, narratives and folds, Performance Research, 16 (1), pp. 4-17.
Elkins, S. (1976) Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Third Edition.
Equianco, O. (2007) The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African Written by Himself. UK: Dodo Press.
Felman, Sh. (2002) The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Field, F. (1991) British and French writers of the First World War: comparative studies in cultural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Finley, C. (2018) Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon. Princeton University Press.
Fisch, A. (ed.) (2007) The Cambridge companion to African American slave narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Georgiades, E. (2014) Trauma, company and witnessing in Samuel Beckett’s post-war drama, 1952-61. PhD Dissertation. University of Manchester.
Harris, T. and Larson, J. (Eds). (2007) Reading Contemporary African American Drama: Fragments of History, Fragments of Self. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Harvey, P. (2011) Through the Storm, Through the Night: A History of African American Christianity. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Herman, J. L. (2001) Trauma and Recovery. London: Pandora.
Hill, A. D. and Barnett, D. Q. (2009) Historical Dictionary of African American Theater. Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Hirsch, F. (1970) Slaveship by Leroi Jones. Educational Theatre Journal, 22 (1), pp. 102-103.
Jarrett, G. A. (Ed.) (2014) The Wiley Blackwell Anthology of African American Literature, Volume 2: 1920 to the present. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Kenan, R. (2013) The Good Ship "Jesus": Baldwin, Bergman, and the Protestant Imagination; or, Baldwin's Bitter Taste. African American Review, 46 (4), pp.701-714.
Kumar, N. (2009) Form as a Site of Contest: Yoruba Tragedy turns Revolutionary in Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship. IRWLE, 5 (1), pp. 45-52.
Lacapra, D. (2014) Writing history, writing trauma. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Lowance Jr., M. (ed.) (2003) A House Divided: The Antebellum Slavery Debates in America, 1776-1865. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
McNally, R. J. (2012) Are we winning the war against posttraumatic stress disorder? Science 336 (6083), pp. 872-874.
Moore, D., Boelhower, W., Goudie, S. X., Salt, K. N., Christopher, E., Blackhawk, N., & Rediker, M. (2010) Colloquy with Marcus Rediker on The Slave Ship: A Human History. Atlantic Studies, 7 (1), pp. 5-45.
Morrison, T. (1974) Rediscovering black history. New York Times Magazine, 11, pp. 14-24.
Morrison, T. (2008) What moves at the margin: Selected nonfiction. University Press of Mississippi.
Muhammad Esq P. (2003) The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Forgotten Crime Against Humanity as Defined by International Law, American University International Law Review 19 (4), pp. 883-947.
Murphy, L. (2008) ‘The Curse of Constant Remembrance: The Belated Trauma of the Slave Trade in Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments’, Studies in the Novel, 40 (1 & 2), pp. 52-71.
Mustakeem, M. (2016) Slavery at sea: Terror, sex and sickness in the Middle Passage. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Neal, L. (2002) The Black Arts Movement. In: Bean, A. (ed.) A Sourcebook of African-American performance: Plays, people, movements. London: Routledge.
Pederson, J. (2014) Speak, trauma: toward a revised understanding of literary trauma theory, Narrative, 22 (3), pp. 333-353.
Pederson, J. (2018) Trauma and Narrative, In: Trauma and Literature. Kurtz J. (ed.) Philadelphia: Drexel University.
Pittman, E. (2010) Historical Memory and Embodied Politics as Public Interventions in Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship. Prefix 1.1, pp. 33-43.
Rediker, M. (2007) The Slave Ship: A human history. New York: Penguin Group.
Sacks, S. (2015) The rise of the nameless narrator. The New Yorker, 3.
Salam, W. (2016) The application of trauma theory to the Post-World War I writing of Ernest Hemingway, Laurence Stallings and Harry Crosby. PhD Dissertation. University of Texas.
Sotero, M. (2006) A conceptual model of historical trauma: implications for public health practice and research, Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 1(1), pp. 93–108.
Spitzer, R. (2002) The African Holocaust: Should Europe pay reparations to Africa for Colonialism and Slavery?, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 35, p. 1319.
Starman, H. (2006) Felman, Shoshana. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002. (Accessed: 22 July 2018).
Stove, R. J. (2009) 1914 and Christmas: What Might Have Been, New American. Monday, 14 December.
Stringer, D. (2009) Not Even Past Race, Historical Trauma, and Subjectivity in Faulkner, Larsen, and Van Vechten. (American Literatures Initiative)-Fordham University Press.
Temple, C. (2006) Rescuing the Literary in Black Studies. Journal of Black Studies, 36 (5), pp. 764-785.
Temple, C. (2010) The emergence of Sankofa practice in the United States: A modern history, Journal of Black Studies, 41(1), pp.127-150.
Tolman, T. L. (2011) The effects of slavery and emancipation on African-American families and family history research. Crossroads, 3, pp. 6-17.
Visser, I. (2014) Trauma and power in postcolonial literary Studies, In: Balaev, Michelle (ed.) Contemporary approaches in literary trauma theory. Chennai, India: Palgrave McMillan.
Whitehead, A. (2004) Trauma Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University.
Walvin, J. (2000) An African Life: The Life and Times of Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797. London: Continuum.
Wolff, C. G. (1991) "Margaret Garner": A Cincinnati Story. The Massachusetts Review, 32(3), pp. 417-440.
Woolfork, L. (2010) Embodying American Slavery in Contemporary Culture. University of Illinois Press.
Young, J. R. (ed.) (2005) Spirituality and Socialization in the Slave Community, In: Hornsby, A. (ed.) A Companion to African American History. Cornwall, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Published
2019-04-20
How to Cite
1.
Maulood N, Barzani S. Trauma in Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship. JAHS [Internet]. 20Apr.2019 [cited 22Jul.2019];23(2):285 -308. Available from: http://zancojournals.su.edu.krd/index.php/JAHS/article/view/2495
Section
Articles