Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017

Publication Title

The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association


English Language & Literature


This essay locates Saidiya Hartman’s travel and writing in relationship to a longer and multifaceted legacy of black travel that includes the forced/coerced movement of black people across the Atlantic during the slave trade, the migratory travel of black diasporic peoples, and African American tourism to Africa, Ghana in particular. This essay argues that Hartman's text challenges us to build bridges across the boundaries we often construct between these various types of movement, enabling us to see the ways in which these journeys intersect in tenuous ways. Pushing beyond narrow definitions of travel, this essay questions singular frameworks that focus on a singular type of journey, as they lead to incomplete readings of African American travel texts, like Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, that foreground more fluid and multiple journeys—forced journeys of slavery, journeys of flight and displacement, as well as voluntary journeys of privilege. This study expands scholarship on Hartman by tending to the fluid and multiple geographies and itineraries at the center of her travel text, making visible the complexities of black people's journeys in the past and present and illustrating how those complex journeys produce varying perspectives on slavery and freedom.