Resister and Rebel Storytellers

Jessie W. Sagawa, Wendy Joan Robbins


Slavery and its stubborn legacy of system racism are realities hard to own up to in a country like Canada that typically sees itself as polite, civil, and peaceable-a fair country. In recent years, however, academics and authors have been filling in some of the shameful silences and correcting some of the distortions of the historical and literary records, particularly as regards enslaved women, recognizing, for one thing, that storytelling is a method of resisting injustice, and, for another, that neglecting these stories is a kind of violence. This paper examines Afua Cooper's The Hanging of Angélique, a story dating to 1734; The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. Related by Herself, from 1831; and two recent neo-slave novels, Dionne Brand's At the Full and Change of the Moon, 1999, and Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, 2007. The answer to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's famous question, "Can the Subaltern Speak"," may well be yes.


slave; women; resistance; storytelling; violence against women; narrative

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