Saidiya Hartman

The plot of her undoing begins with his dominion. It begins in the fifteenth century with a papal bull, with a philosopher at his desk, pen in hand, as he sorts the world into categories of genus and species. It begins with a bill of sale, with a story in the newspaper that enumer-ates her crimes, with a note appended to the file: she answers questions easily, but appears stupid; it begins with a wanted poster that reduces the history of her life to a single word—condemned. The plot of her undoing begins with a man in his study writing ...

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