Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jan 22, 2008 - History - 288 pages

In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman journeys along a slave route in Ghana, following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast. She retraces the history of the Atlantic slave trade from the fifteenth to the twentieth century and reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy.

There were no survivors of Hartman's lineage, nor far-flung relatives in Ghana of whom she had come in search. She traveled to Ghana in search of strangers. The most universal definition of the slave is a stranger—torn from kin and country. To lose your mother is to suffer the loss of kin, to forget your past, and to inhabit the world as a stranger. As both the offspring of slaves and an American in Africa, Hartman, too, was a stranger. Her reflections on history and memory unfold as an intimate encounter with places—a holding cell, a slave market, a walled town built to repel slave raiders—and with people: an Akan prince who granted the Portuguese permission to build the first permanent trading fort in West Africa; an adolescent boy who was kidnapped while playing; a fourteen-year-old girl who was murdered aboard a slave ship.

Eloquent, thoughtful, and deeply affecting, Lose Your Mother is a powerful meditation on history, memory, and the Atlantic slave trade.


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LOSE YOUR MOTHER: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

User Review  - Kirkus

Somber meditation by a descendant of slaves who journeyed to Africa to understand her past. In 1997, Hartman (English/UC Berkeley) went to Ghana as a Fulbright Scholar and spent a year researching the ... Read full review

Lose your mother: a journey along the Atlantic slave route

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

These two books on the slave trade, particularly the Middle Passage, reach beyond the bounds of traditional historical writing to great effect. Hartman (English, Univ. of California, Berkeley;Scenes ... Read full review


List of Illustrations
Markets and Martyrs
The Family Romance
Come Go Back Child
The Tribe of the Middle Passage
So Many Dungeons
The Dead Book
The Dark Days
The Famished Road
Fugitive Dreams


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About the author (2008)

Saidiya Hartman is the author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in the Nineteenth-Century America. She has taught at the University of California in Berkeley, and is currently a visiting professor at Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

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