“Social death” is a hot word on the Internet, but its “past life” is often unknown. The most common saying is that this term comes from the book “Notes of Funerals” by American funeralist and poet Thomas Lynch, in which “social death” refers to the moment when a person is informed of the death by relatives and friends; some people will Thinking of the Pixar animation “Dream Travel”, “When the last person in the world who remembers you also passes away, then you are really dead.”
A few articles put forward another argument, pointing out that “social death” is from the classic book “Slavery and Social Death” by the black American scholar Orlando Patterson. In terms of time, this book is earlier than “The Notes of Funerals”.
Patterson conducted an in-depth analysis of more than 60 slavery societies throughout the world throughout the ages. In these societies, becoming a slave can be said to be a kind of “social death.” This is because becoming a slave means being fully controlled and monitored, not allowed to have autonomous social interactions, intellectually and morally not qualified to argue with free men, and will be used like livestock or inanimate tools; the master will not When they are happy, slaves are replaced or even “destroyed”; when slaves try to escape, anyone has the right to arrest them, tie them up, torture or lynch them. In fact, the slave was already “community dead”, and the destruction of his body would not be considered a major event.
The above-mentioned meanings are obviously different from the current usage on the Internet. Different from “forgotten by the world” and “enslaved”, now we often use “community death” to mean “personal design collapsed” and “as pointed out by many people”. Sometimes people will laugh at themselves as “community is dead” when they do something embarrassing and have no place to show themselves.
Due to the different opinions, the history of the word “she died” is indeed ambiguous, but when we look for the word and its underlying concepts from where and how many ambiguities, we can indeed realize that there are so many kinds of ambiguities. “Social death”, and how life and these “deaths” confront and deal with each other.
Death is inevitable for everyone, but “social killing” like slavery is never justified. The slave trade destroyed the minds and bodies of countless African men and women. When the descendants of black slaves look back on history, they see that their ancestors are at the bottom of the system, like trampled fragments. How can historical fragments resist “social death”?
Setia Hartman, a black female scholar, tried to find female slaves in historical archives, but she could not find any autobiographical narratives of slaves in the archives, only accounts, letters, and diaries from slave traders and sailors. , Receipts, medical reports. Inside, the slave owner triumphantly wrote down which female slave he raped yesterday, or whose mouth was stuffed with feces, and the merchants turned them into disreputable amounts and figures.
In 1792, a captain was accused of killing two female slaves, but the lies and fabricated statements in the trial record allowed the captain to be acquitted. For the murdered female slave, the only thing we know came from “those dangerous language that legalized her murder.” Hartman must combine imagination to re-narrate the story of the slave. At the same time, she realizes that the real experience can no longer be restored. This is just a “critical fiction” for the present.
Although slavery has been abolished, Hartman still sees the tenacious structure of slavery remaining in today’s society, and African Americans still suffer from many social problems. This is like the “present life after reincarnation” of slavery, the “evil fruit” of the previous life is still entangled in this life.
People didn’t know anything about the murdered slave girl, only that the crew called her Venus.