In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman journeys along a slave route in Ghana, following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast. She retraces the history of the Atlantic slave trade from the fifteenth to the twentieth century and reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy.
There were no survivors of Hartman’s lineage, nor far-flung relatives in Ghana of whom she had come in search. She traveled to Ghana in search of strangers. The most universal definition of the slave is a stranger torn from kin and country. To lose your mother is to suffer the loss of kin, to forget your past, and to inhabit the world as a stranger. As both the offspring of slaves and an American in Africa, Hartman, too, was a stranger. Eloquent, thoughtful, and deeply affecting, Lose Your Mother is a powerful meditation on history, memory, and the Atlantic slave trade.
In the media
Saidiya Hartman’s story of retracing the routes of the Atlantic slave trade in Ghana is an original, thought-provoking meditation on the corrosive legacy of slavery from the 16th century to the present and a welcome illustration of the powers of innovative scholarship to help us better understand how history shapes identity.—The New York Times
Intimate and accessible, full of gorgeous, heart-tugging prose, Lose Your Mother is an autobiographical search for a usable past both in the United States and in Ghana.—http://hemisphericinstitute.org
As with the best of travel writing, this work journeys not merely to a place (Ghana) but more profoundly into the author’s own sensibility, her particular way of feeling in the world.—Anthurium
Her book describes a deeply personal journey taken by a woman who insists that the ghosts of slavery still haunt the present.—Kirkus Review