Mobility, migrant mnemonics and memory citizenship: Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother

Pramod K. Nayar


This essay, located at the intersection of memory studies and travel writing studies, examines a text in the genre of footsteps travel, Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007). As Hartman tries to retrace the routes slaves took when transported out of their villages in Ghana, she is performing acts of memory—and these acts are what the present essay studies. It first proposes that travel, movement and memory are intimately linked in Hartman’s work. Later, it goes on to analyse memory itself as ethnic property and the problematic nature of Hartman’s ethnic memory in order to argue a case for memory as multidirectional. It concludes by deploying Michael Rothberg and Yasmin Yildiz’s idea of memory citizenship to read in Hartman’s complicated attempts to situate herself within a particular memory of slavery.

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