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


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.


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How to Cite
Maulood N, Barzani S. Trauma in Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship. JAHS [Internet]. 20Apr.2019 [cited 20Sep.2020];23(2):285 -308. Available from: