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The History of Mary Prince

In The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative (1831), food is often referenced in terms of its absence. For Prince, food is a signifier not only of hunger and repression, but also of resistance, appetite, and community formation. Prince’s careful descriptions of salt pond labor and her ability to sell food for profit makes visible her role within a larger system of female-driven domesticity and male-driven market economics. Included in the narrative is a detailed description of the labor of salt production as well as its dangers to the human body. Prince describes working "through the heat of the day; the sun flaming upon our heads like fire, and raising salt blisters in those parts which were not completely covered. Our feet and legs, from standing in teh salt water for so many hours, soon became full of dreadful boils, which eat down in some cases to the very bone, afflicting the sufferers with great torment." Here, salt is figured as a cannibalistic substance; a raw material that, like sugar, drove the Atlantic world economy while simultaneously producing and destroying bodies of an enslaved labor force.

Cannibalism and the Commodity Aesthetic
The History of Mary Prince