ARTICLE: Hartman on Black Women’s Labors


“Negro Quarters” in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (1853), vol. 9, p. 753. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library) as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

Saidiya Hartman, “The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women’s Labors.” Souls 18, no. 1 (2016): 166-173.
First paragraph:

“The slave ship is a womb/abyss. The plantation is the belly of the world. Partus sequitur ventrem—the child follows the belly. The master dreams of future increase. The modern world follows the belly. Gestational language has been key to describing the world-making and world-breaking capacities of racial slavery. What it created and what it destroyed has been explicated by way of gendered figures of conception, birth, parturition, and severed or negated maternity. To be a slave is to be “excluded from the prerogatives of birth.” The mother’s only claim—to transfer her dispossession to the child. The material relations of sexuality and reproduction defined black women’s historical experiences as laborers and shaped the character of their refusal of and resistance to slavery.1 The theft, regulation and destruction of black women’s sexual and reproductive capacities would also define the afterlife of slavery….”

Read: The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women’s Labors – Souls – Volume 18, Issue 1

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