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How Saidiya Hartman Changed the Study of Black Life

A conversation with writer about her pathbreaking book Scenes of Subjection and how our understanding of race has changed in the last two decades. 

Saidiya Hartman has shaped studies of Black life for over two decades.

  • Elias Rodriques
  • The Nation

Her first book, 1997’s Scenes of Subjection, argued that slavery was foundational to the American project and its notions of liberty.

Her follow-up, 2006’s Lose Your Mother, combines elements of historiography and memoir in exploring the experience and legacy of enslavement.

Here she first used a speculative method of writing history given the silences of the archive.

And her most recent book, 2019’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, examines the…

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