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21 - Zenneb and Saint-André’s Cruise Up the Nile to Dongola

An Enslaved Woman from Dar Fur (Sudan) and Her Self-Presentation

from Part Four - Slavery Observed: European Travelers’ Accounts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

Alice Bellagamba
Affiliation:
University of Milan-Bicocca
Sandra E. Greene
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
Martin A. Klein
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

Zenneb was an enslaved woman from Dar Fur who became the female companion of M. Saint-André, a French pharmacist serving in the Egyptian army. Slavery was a very old institution in Egypt and the Sudan. Zenneb words and actions reveal her views, her range of self-presentation, and the complexity of her position as the slave companion of a European in a Muslim society. She could defend Saint-André against Musa's accusations by praising his treatment of her, which she contrasted to that of her earlier Muslim masters who had insulted and beaten her. Contesting versions emphasized superficial differences or deeper similarities between races. Aware of cultural differences in the perception of racial hierarchies and standards of beauty, she sought to present herself to her best advantage according to the culture of the places she was in.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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