Life of SARA Baartman Term Paper

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Life of Sara Baartman

The Life and Times of Sara Baartman functions as an excellent case study for the ills of imperialism, colonialism, and enslavement. This documentary provides a prolonged look at the systematic mistreatment and subjugation of Baartman, who was initially enslaved due to the imperialist appetite of European nations which quickly colonized and enslaved many of the people in South Africa. Baartman's personal story is considerably distinct from that of other chattel slaves, however, because she was eventually taken to Europe itself -- first to England and then to France -- and displayed as a side show freak and an example of savage sexuality, due to her enlarged buttocks and female genitalia.

However, while working as a slave in South Africa in parts of Cape Horn, there are many similarities to Baartman's fate and that of other African's chronicled in King Leopold's Ghost. The primary distinction between the degree of enslavement and colonialism that took place in Belgium in this latter work and that going on in South Africa is the fact that Baartman was able to live for as long as she did. Conservative estimate indicate that nearly half of the Africans who were enslaved by King Leopold from approximately 1885 to 1908 were brutally killed as the imperialists forced their colonized subjects to mine for ivory and rubber. Both cases, however, provide great examples for the greed of imperialism, and also allude to what Europeans perceived as the racial inferiority of Africans which allowed the former to mistreat the latter and to feel justified in doing so.

Yet Baartman's tale presents additional evidence for the travesty that Europeans conceived of due to their perception of the racial inferiority of Africans that is much more perverse than that found in King Leopold's Ghost. The British…

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