What You Looking At Me For? : The Black Comedian as Fetish Object [abstract]
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Through numerous descriptions of Africans and indigenous peoples, travel writing and other historical documents reveal that Europeans continually fetishized the bodies of the people they encountered. By thrusting the presence of these "others" into the public sphere, Europeans also created public spectacles out of bodies that did not adhere to a European aesthetic of beauty. This act revealed the West's obsession with the lives and, most prominently, the bodies of racial and ethnic others. While Africans like Saartjie Baartman and other indigenous peoples may have been some of the first inadvertent 'performers' to be fetishized, they have not been the last. People of color on stage, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, have especially been subject to this public specular fixation.
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