BLOGROLL: Dize on Locating Enslaved Black Wet Nurses in Francophone Literature

Nathan Dize writes:


“In George Sand’s 1832 idealist novel, Indiana, the eponymous protagonist is raised alongside her sœur de lait or “milk sister” Noun in the French Indian Ocean colony of Île Bourbon (present day Réunion). A “milk sister” was the daughter of the often enslaved wet nurse, and under French slave laws, children of enslaved women carried the enslaved status of their mothers. Since Sand emphasizes Noun’s mixed-race features throughout the novel, we can assume that she is the child of a coerced sexual encounter between her mother and a planter.

“Even though the colonial kinship between these two women is a major aspect of the novel’s plot, Noun’s enslaved mother is nameless and mostly absent from the novel. In the few instances she is mentioned, her breast milk is regarded as a colonial commodity for the nourishment of Indiana, whose family owns the plantation on Île Bourbon. Sand’s exclusion of Noun’s mother thus raises questions about the novel’s plot, the colonial setting, and its colonial characters…”

Read the rest:
Nursing Clio Locating Enslaved Black Wet Nurses in the Literature of French Slavery

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