Politics of Memory and Re-memory in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng

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P. Indhumathi, R. Vijaya


This paper investigates the politics of memory and re-memory in Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1984). Slave memory and re-memory can only be found via folklore research, and white historiography is devoid of any mention of slave resistance. In the novel Abeng, Clare Savage’s story of reclaiming her blackness is told, as is the intergenerational sadness brought on by the erasure of the slave history. A healing method is Clare’s ethnogenesis, in which she simultaneously perpetuates colonial notions of blood purity and insists that the subject can only be healed by returning to the subjectivity that was free of slavery’s stains. She is Clare’s national mother because she was never enslaved and represents the spirit of resistance and bravery that Clare values. However, Sekesu, the mother of all slaves, represents a refusal to fight for one’s freedom. Recovering and healing from slavery may be achieved by exploring and visualizing how enslaved women fought back against their captors.


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