Podcast – Slavery and the Aesthetics of Abjection – Philippa Levine

Jennifer Grove and Kate Fisher
University of Exeter

Last month we were joined at Exeter by Professor Philippa Levine from the University of Texas at Austin who spoke to us on “Slavery and the Aesthetics of Abjection”. This was a seminar organised by the Centre for Imperial and Global History  and the Sexual Knowledge Unit, with support from Global Engagement and Development.

Philippa, who is currently the Walter Prescott Webb Chair of History and Ideas at UT Austin, will be known to many for her wide-ranging work on the nineteenth and twentieth century history of imperialism, gender, sexuality, prostitution, medicine, eugenics and the professionalization of the study of the past. Her new project which she discussed with us is exploring the eighteenth and nineteenth century history of nakedness. In this paper she focused on nakedness in images of slaves and slavery, drawing particularly on the visual record of enslavement. For Levine such images draw on what she terms an aesthetics of ‘abjection’, and she charted the various visual markers of marginality and loss. Continue reading “Podcast – Slavery and the Aesthetics of Abjection – Philippa Levine”