Title : The Hottentot Venus
Author : Rachael Holmes
Book Review : Hottentot Venus, a combination of ‘Hottentot’, which means strange and heterogeneous, and obscene, and ‘Venus’, the word that symbolizes goddess, refers to a woman who was at the center of controversy in the early 19th Century London. This expression reflects racial prejudice and discrimination of Europe of that time towards African people. The book ‘Hottentot Venus’ is a product of tremendous efforts by the author to show the woman’s life and tragedy through extensive research and study.
In the early 19th Century, when imperialism and racism were rampant in European societies, Saartjie Baartman, a woman who had crossed the ocean and come to London from Cape Town, South Africa, was put on display in a street venue in London. Those who lured Saartjie to come to London thought they could make money by showing her to Europeans because of their lack of familiarity with Africans. Saartjie attracted numerous spectators as she was perceived as an exotic, peculiar spectacle, not a human being, due to the distinctive traits of her appearance inherited from her tribal ancestors. Europeans with racial prejudice in mind paid excessive attention to Saartjie’s large, prominent bottom and her genitals.
In London of that time, a strange and grotesque business based on racism, which described as scientific imperialism, was prevalent. Those who were classified as ‘abnormal’ became subject of public exhibition for a seemingly plausible reason that they arouse scientific curiosity and inspire spectators. With this background, Saartjie, who was perceived as a mysterious African woman with abnormal physical traits, was victimized as a means of business. She died at the age of 25 in 1815. Her human rights were consistently infringed even after her death and she was exploited for economic benefits. The media poured out articles with racial prejudice and her body was placed in a museum in France.
Saartjie Baartman was an ordinary woman, however, the weight of her life and what it suggests are beyond those of an any ordinary individual. Her stuffed body was returned from France and she came back to South Africa in 192 years after she had left for London, which was achieved by South African presidents including Nelson Mandela. Today, South Africans, who advocate democracy without racial discrimination, remember Saartjie as one of the people who symbolize their national spirit.
The author carefully and enthusiastically devoted time and efforts to write this book with sympathy coming from her love for humanity. The book ‘Saartjie Baartman’ teaches readers how a series of events surrounding human rights of a single individual can reveal tragedy of mankind in historical circumstances of that time.
* This review was written by Jisu Kim.
Title: Crash (2004)
Director: Paul Haggis
Prejudice is a negative attitude towards a certain individual based solely on his/her personal characteristics, such as gender, race, or sexuality. We often view ourselves as prejudice-free since we do not act on this negative attitude. However, even when we are genuinely motivated to be non-prejudiced, we unintentionally lead ourselves to rely on those prejudices.
Presuming that most people feel prejudice against members of a certain group, Crash shows the unforeseeable impact of one’s prejudice on individuals and society as a whole. As the lives of Whites, Blacks, Persians, Latinos, Asians crash against one another, the movie interweaves these stories through the feature of bigotry and racism. Each crash involves a cruel and bitter consequence of the unfiltered prejudiced attitude, which blinds our perception of the person standing before us. Furthermore, the movie takes a rather impartial approach that portrays every characters as both victims and offenders of racism. While a characters falls victim to others’ racial prejudice, this character is also shown to be prejudiced him/herself in another situation. This duality highlights the pervasiveness of prejudice in our daily lives, which sources the social division and tension.
One of the scenes, where Tom shoots Peter with a gun, clearly shows that we are not free from prejudice. Even though Tom, a young white cop, was disgusted by his coworker’s racism towards Black, he soon gets blinded by his prejudice against Black, when Peter, a young black guy, hitchhiked on his car. Along the way, Peter and Tom develops a subtle tension as they show each’s unfiltered prejudice. As Peter reaches to his pocket to prove his innocent laughter, Tom instantly believes that Peter is reaching out for his gun. This tragic judgment based on Tom’s prejudice, where he negatively assumes Peter’s action based on his race, emphasizes that such attitudes are uncontrollable despite our efforts to avoid it.
As Crash begins and ends with a scene of a car crash, the movie stresses the importance of “crash”. Throughout the movie, Crash implies that our inability to interact and understand others is perpetuated as prejudice, stereotype, or discrimination. The crash and interaction with one another becomes a crucial turning point to dissipate such negative reactions. In other words, the “crash” between individuals from different backgrounds can correct the subtle racism and overt prejudice in today’s society. In turn, this effort will lessen the impacts of prejudice on our perception of others.
*This review was written by Hye Soo, Hahn.
강문숙 강민승 곽병수 구명진 구자승 구정우 권오승 김갑유 김고은 김광일 김도형 김동혁 김민서 김민지 김수영 김영자 김자원 김종엽 김태령 김혁(1) 김혁(2) 김현호 김형근 류성호 류호근 문대원 박범진 박정훈 박창현 박현준 박혜란 배명호 백범석 서창우 서창희 손교명 송영훈 송진원 심재경 양기웅 엄영선 오다건 원재천 원종혁 원준표 유연우 유윤정 윤대웅 윤웅상 이다정 이미숙 이선이 이성원 이성현 이연재 이영환 이용진 이용훈 이은경 이재천이정국 이진영 이진화 이철호 임유철 장근호 장동진 전명옥 정사명 정성윤 조규완 조산새 조수아 조용노 조윤영 조지영 제강호 지연숙 최경규 최서린 최치훈 한지민 허 선 황선영 황원희 황유정 황태희
(주)노아종합상사, (주)대덕휴비즈, (주)파라다이스, (주)부원공업, (주)디자인210, 의료법인 오해븐의료재단, 트리코인베스트먼트(주), 재단법인 정암, 고고밴, 일동제약(주) 및 임직원 일동, 한국외국인학교, 디자인스튜디오, 주)네오아이오티, (주)사운드파이브코리아, 고양국제고 보담, 대원 휴라시아, 숭의 휴라시아, 애인, 하나 휴라시아, H.A.S, HATS, Human Acts, Hyehwa Human Asia, K.I.H.A, K.I.S.J, S.A.W, S.C.C.W, Volhumteer, Ms. Rights, 청심휴라시아