Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic
This talk focuses on Anna Arabindan-Kesson’s new book, Black Bodies, White Gold. It examines the visual relationship between the cotton trade and the representation of the black body in American culture, using historical case studies and contemporary art. Juxtaposing contemporary interventions with historical moments, it examines how cotton materially influenced the way black bodies were seen, and how black Americans saw themselves, as both enslaved and free Americans. Tracing this relationship deepens our understanding of the intersections of vision, value and subjectivity in the production of racial identity in nineteenth-century America, and also today.