Cultural Memories of Origin

Trauma, Memory and Imagery in African American Narratives of the Middle Passage



‘Cultural Memories of Origin’ focuses on how the second maritime leg of the African slave trade – commonly referred to as the Middle Passage – is represented in select literary and artistic works of African American culture. The book analyses several discursive, aesthetic and political shifts in the memory production about the transatlantic slave trade and discusses their ramifications for the construction of black identity in the U.S. Given the deracinating nature that the middle passage experience had on African subjects, as well as the representational difficulties in portraying this rupture, the book’s analytical framework incorporates theories of trauma. By addressing the productive contrast and the methodological differences that exist in between what is in general deemed “historical scholarship” on the one hand and “cultural memory” on the other, the book contributes to the ongoing discussion about the possibility of an involuntary inheritability of traumatic events.