The humility of Sarah Baartman

This is the story of an empty box. It is also the story of a brief encounter with a material object, and the effects produced by that object in the moment of encounter. It concerns the afterlife of Sarah Baartman. Sarah ‘Saartjie’ Baartman was a Khoisan woman born in the vicinity of the Gamtoos River in what is now the Eastern Cape, South Africa, some time before 1790. Orphaned in a commando raid, she passed into the hands of Dutch farmers near Cape Town as a slave. In 1810 she was taken to London, where she was exhibited as a freak show attraction under the name of the ‘Hottentot Venus’. Read more here.