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The Hurt(ful) BodyPerforming and Beholding Pain, 1600-1800$
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Tomas Macsotay, Cornelis van der Haven, and Karel Vanhaesebrouck

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784995164

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784995164.001.0001

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To travel to suffer: towards a reverse anthropology of the early modern colonial body

To travel to suffer: towards a reverse anthropology of the early modern colonial body

(p.74) 3 To travel to suffer: towards a reverse anthropology of the early modern colonial body
The Hurt(ful) Body

Karel Vanhaesebrouck

Manchester University Press

By focusing on the way early modern plays staged these colonial encounters, this contribution will address the question of the enslaved body which functioned as a site of both cultural exoticism and compassionate identification, directly dealing with complex issues such as pain, cruelty and martyrdom. This chapter will take two specific texts as its starting point: the fascinating play Les Portugais infortunés (1608) by Nicolas Chrétien des Croix, which stages an encounter of a shipwrecked Portuguese crew with an indigenous African tribe, and La Peinture spirituelle (1611) by Louis Richome, the account of the massacre of 39 Catholic martyrs from the ‘Compagnie de Jésus’, murdered by Protestants, on their way to Brazil on the 15th of July in 1570. In both cases the human body functions as a spectacular locus of intercultural dialogue (or warfare). This chapter proposes an analysis of both texts, not as literature in the first place, but as artefacts of cultural imagination which question the idea of alterity and the all too easy dichotomy between the self and the other, while at the same time showing that Europe, Africa and Brazil (or by extension South America) share a history and a culture of the (hurt) body.

Keywords:   Colonial encounters; Theatre; Cultural imagination; Exoticism

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