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Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

by Saidiya Hartman

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317373,019 (3.86)1
In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman traces the history of the Atlantic slave trade by recounting a journey she took along a slave route in Ghana. Following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast, Hartman reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy and vividly dramatizes the effects of slavery on three centuries of African and African-American history. The slave, Hartman observes, is a stranger, one torn from family, home, and country. To lose your mother is to be severed from your kin, to forget your past, and to inhabit the world as an outsider, an alien. There are no known survivors of Hartman's lineage, no relatives in Ghana whom she came hoping to find. She is a stranger in search of strangers, and this fact leads her into intimate engagements with the people she encounters along the way and draws her deeper into the heartland of slavery. She passes through the holding cells of military forts and castles, the ruins of towns and villages devastated by the trade, and the fortified settlements built to repel predatory armies and kidnappers. In artful passages of historical portraiture, she shows us an Akan prince who granted the Portuguese permission to build the first permanent trading fort in West Africa, a girl murdered aboard a slave ship, and a community of fugitives seeking a haven from slave raiders. Book jacket.Includes information on abolition, Atlantic slave trade, castles, children, cowrie shells, Isaac Cruikshank, Ottohab Cugoano, death disease, dungeons, Dutch slave trade, Elmina, Elmina Castle, Europe, female slaves, France, genealogy, Ghana, Gold Coast, Great Britain, Martin Luther King, Jr., male slaves, Kwame Nkrumah, Portugese slave trade, race, racism, rape, ruling class, Salaga, slavery, tourism, United States, violence, etc.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
A beautifully written travelogue. Anyone with an interest in the black Atlantic slave trade can benefit from being exposed to some of the ideas in those book (though those ideas aren't all necessarily Hartman's). Having not yet read any of her more scholarly works, I was struck by the honesty of this book, though at times I found myself wondering what she was leaving out by focusing on her own experience. Maybe what's missing is found in her other text. ( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
A really great book--Hartman traces her research journey through various slave trade sites in Ghana alongside her emotional reaction to them and the constant deferral of what she emotionally wants/needs out of that trip. There's so much going on in here about space and geography, and the collapsing of time that is super interesting, and Hartman is a really excellent writer. The way she weaves some sentences leaves a lot of "oh eff" moments, and I really feel like I have to revisit this when I'm not under a time crunch to finish it for class and think a lot more about questions about ghosts and haunting for myself (I'm always thinking about ghosts and haunting.)

Anyway, I really strongly encourage folks to read this, it's a great book that provides a lot of information alongside an emotional journey that's interesting and insightful to follow. ( )
  aijmiller | Oct 5, 2017 |
I would call this book an historical memoir. Hartman, an African American historian, goes to Ghana to research the African slave trade, hoping to find some kind of sense of origin or family, but instead finds complexity upon complexity within tangles of human cruelty, pain and betrayal.

I found the title compelling and the cover art on the paperback haunting. I think the title speaks to the true displacement not just of those descended from the survivors of the Middle Passage, but of those left behind in a continent ravaged by outsiders for centuries. The book serves as a fine backdrop to understanding the continuing war on families and communities of African descent in the United States, not to mention the continuing abandonment of Africa by the rest of the world. ( )
3 vote lilysea | Jun 15, 2008 |
Showing 3 of 3
Saidiya Hartman’s story of retracing the routes of the Atlantic slave trade in Ghana is an original, thought-provoking meditation on the corrosive legacy of slavery from the 16th century to the present and a welcome illustration of the powers of innovative scholarship to help us better understand how history shapes identity. But the book is also — this must be stressed — splendidly written, driven by this writer’s prodigious narrative gifts.
 
To lose your mother is about losing your identity, your language, your country, and that's the way they speak of it in West Africa. So, it's about those losses that haunt us, those ancestors who we know but can't name. We feel their presence but they're without names for us. (Saidiya Hartman)
 
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In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman traces the history of the Atlantic slave trade by recounting a journey she took along a slave route in Ghana. Following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast, Hartman reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy and vividly dramatizes the effects of slavery on three centuries of African and African-American history. The slave, Hartman observes, is a stranger, one torn from family, home, and country. To lose your mother is to be severed from your kin, to forget your past, and to inhabit the world as an outsider, an alien. There are no known survivors of Hartman's lineage, no relatives in Ghana whom she came hoping to find. She is a stranger in search of strangers, and this fact leads her into intimate engagements with the people she encounters along the way and draws her deeper into the heartland of slavery. She passes through the holding cells of military forts and castles, the ruins of towns and villages devastated by the trade, and the fortified settlements built to repel predatory armies and kidnappers. In artful passages of historical portraiture, she shows us an Akan prince who granted the Portuguese permission to build the first permanent trading fort in West Africa, a girl murdered aboard a slave ship, and a community of fugitives seeking a haven from slave raiders. Book jacket.Includes information on abolition, Atlantic slave trade, castles, children, cowrie shells, Isaac Cruikshank, Ottohab Cugoano, death disease, dungeons, Dutch slave trade, Elmina, Elmina Castle, Europe, female slaves, France, genealogy, Ghana, Gold Coast, Great Britain, Martin Luther King, Jr., male slaves, Kwame Nkrumah, Portugese slave trade, race, racism, rape, ruling class, Salaga, slavery, tourism, United States, violence, etc.

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