Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad: A Marxist Study
دراسة ماركسية لرواية كولسون وايتهيد “السكك الحديدية تحت الأرض”
نزيهة محمد شمس الدين Naziha mouhammad Shams Eddine
تاريخ الإرسال:22-11-2023 تاريخ القبول:7-12-202
Though Marxist period has ended and the Communist Bloc has failed, Karl Marx’s theory of Marxism remains an essential theory that help us understand history. Through a Marxist lens, this paper investigates the history of enslaved Africans in Colson Whitehead’s Afro-American novel, The Underground Railroad. The novel recounts the story of an enslaved African, Cora, and her ill-fated journeys in America in the 19th century. The study helps us acknowledge the influence of Marxism on understanding history of enslaved Africans. Through Marxist praxis, of class division and notions of commodity, the history of slaves in the antebellum era is re-constructed. Enslaved Africans endured cruel repercussions in an oppressive society as they were treated as commodities for exchange in auctions. Their values lie in their trade-ability with other goods, a perspective ingrained due to the belief held by white communities in their presumed superiority over the black. The belief system is also a result of the societal stratification within the framework of the society. The power imbalance led to the extermination, subjugation and decimation of the black community.
Keywords: The Underground Railroad, enslaved Africans, Marxist praxis, commodity, stratification
على الرّغم من انتهاء الحقبة الماركسية وفشل الكتلة الشيوعيّة، إلّا أن نظرية كارل ماركس الماركسية تظل نظرية أساسية تساعدنا على فهم التاريخ. من خلال العدسة الماركسية، تبحث هذه الورقة في تاريخ الأفارقة المستعبدين في رواية كولسون وايتهيد الأفريقية الأمريكيّة، “السكك الحديدية تحت الأرض”. تسرد الرواية قصة المستعبدة الأفريقيّة كورا ورحلاتها المشؤومة في أمريكا في القرن التاسع عشر. تساعدنا الدراسة في التعرف إلى تأثير الماركسية في فهم تاريخ الأفارقة المستعبدين. من خلال الممارسة الماركسية، للتقسيم الطبقي ومفاهيم السلع، يُعَاد بناء تاريخ العبيد في عصر ما قبل الحرب. لقد عانى الأفارقة المستعبدون من تداعيات قاسية في مجتمع قمعي وقد عُمِلوا كسلع للتبادل في المزادات. وتكمن قيمهم في قابليتهم للتداول مع السلع الأخرى، وهو منظور متأصل بسبب الاعتقاد السائد لدى مجتمعات البيض في تفوقهم المفترض على السود. نظام معتقداتهم هو أيضًا نتيجة للطبقية المجتمعيّة داخل إطار المجتمع. أدى اختلال توازن القوى إلى إبادة مجتمع السود واستعبادهم وتدميرهم.
الكلمات المفاتيح: السكك الحديدية تحت الأرض، الأفارقة المستعبدون، الممارسة الماركسية، السلع، التقسيم الطبقي.
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is a neo-slave narrative that can be studied from a Marxist lens. The novel tells the story of a runaway slave, named Cora. She runs away from Georgia plantation, where she and her family have been working there for three generations. In her quest for freedom, she follows an underground railroad, a hidden network of transportation of secret routes and safe havens. She wants to escape white’s brutality, aggression and cruelty towards the black, yet her efforts to be a free human being prove futile as she embarks her ill-fated trips without a clear sense of her destination. It is a story of the horror of bondage, history of America and terrors of the antebellum period. A Marxist approach to the novel provides a deep insight into the history of enslaved Africans in the antebellum period. The antebellum period is the pre-Civil War era that extended from the 1820 to 1861 and ended in November 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln. It is also called the Plantation era because the economy of the South was based on the plantation farming and slave labor (Antebellum (1820- 1861), n.d.). The prevalent practice of slavery during the 19th century, can be analyzed based on Marxist praxis. To start with, an introduction of Marxism is essential here. Marxism was firstly presented in 1848 with the publishing of The Communist Manifesto by the German historian, Friedrich Engels, and the prominent German philosopher and economist, Karl Marx. Marxism refers to Marx’s system of thoughts of communism and modern socialism (Sayers, 2021). Marx formulated his theory around economic power focusing on its acquisition and retention. In his terminology, he referred to economic conditions as material circumstances and related them to historical contexts because such contexts give rise to the political, social and ideological environment that mirrors these material conditions. According to the Marxist perspective, a comprehensive understanding of human events and productions necessitates a deep understanding of the material and historical contexts that permit the emergence of these phenomena. It is emphasized that these events and productions invariably have material and historical causes, representing tangible conditions in the real world, as abstract and timeless concepts can never provide an accurate depiction of human affairs. Consequently, Marxist analysis of events is grounded in the principle that value can only be ascribed to things that are concrete and applicable to real life (Tyson, 2006). Whitehead’s selected novel is studied and analyzed from a Marxist lens in order to provide an insight into the history of America during the slavery era and answer the question: How does Marxism help us understand the history of enslaved Africans?
Marxism, as a literary theory, has been applied to several literary work and enriched the interpretation of the novels. Such analyses often focus on Marx’s concepts of class divisions and their struggle in societal frameworks. Three distinct studies have been presented here that analyze different novels from a Marxist perspective. The articles mainly focus on class stratification and the consequences this has on the working class and on the capitalist community as a whole.Top of Form In an article entitled Marxist Elements in Charles Dicken’s Novel Hard Times, a researcher, Yasemin AŞCI (2019) analyzed Hard Times from a Marxist perspective. The novel was chosen because Charles Dickens encountered poverty and experienced societal inequalities and oppression in various regions as he grew up. He reflected the oppression of people and their harsh situations in the industrial polluted capitalist town where there exist two clashes between the misery and the wealthy. The article shows how the novel intends to critique such societal conditions through a Marxist lens where the proletariat revolt against capitalism. Analyses also reveal that the lower class must recognize their labor’s value and realize the unfairness of their masters in the industrial world. AŞCI focuses her study on Marxist notions of class struggles and the plight of the working class. She analyzes characters in the novel who tirelessly work for their capitalist employers, showing the need for the revolt of the proletariat. She also presents the effects of the Industrial Revolution of the 1840s through her examination of the socioeconomic roles of characters within the narrative framework. She starts by analyzing a wealthy merchant, Thomas Gradgrind, who represents the spirit of the Industrial Revolution. The novel begins with his philosophy that he teaches to his children, Tom and Louisa, which is based on “facts.” His philosophy is rooted in rationalism and self-interest and devoid of any interest in imaginative or fanciful notions. His philosophy is devoid of subjective sentiments and it reduces human beings to mechanistic entities. His teachings to his children succeeds as his son, Tom, sees himself as a monkey and declares that he strictly adheres to factual reasoning and never uses his own emotions in life. Mr. Gradgrind’s commitment to “facts” extends as he marries his own daughter, Lousia, disregarding her emotions and sentiments. Another important character is analyzed; he is Josiah Bounderby, Mr. Gradgrind’s wealthy and powerful friend. In contrast to his friend’s philosophy of facts, Bounderby is more interested in power and wealth. He is a factory owner and a banker in a Coketown where laborers are referred to as “Hands” in its factories. One of the “hands”, Stephen Blackpool, seeks to divorce his drunken wife to marry Rachael, another “hand” at the factory. Stephen seeks Bounderby’s assistance for the divorce, yet he receives the message that divorce is restricted for the working class because it costs money, and only the wealthy have such access. Another laborer of the “hands” is Slackbridge; he tries to make a revolt in the factory. He spreads awareness among all the “hands” regarding their societal position and the exploitation inflicted upon them by the ruling class. He bases his idea on the inequitable economic return that does not commensurate with their labor efforts. AŞCI relates the revolutionary acts depicted in the novel to the Marxist belief that the working class’s oppression would ultimately lead to a revolution forming to a classless society. Moreover, she relates Coketown to an industrial city where factory owners exploit the lower classes as mere laborers who respond to a ringing bell that signals the commencement of their factory work. She portrays the lower class as machines and robots, devoid of any cognitive engagement and illustrates that the profit generated from their labor is completely appropriated by factory owners who have the absolute control over the means of production (AŞCI, 2019).Top of Form
Another scholarly study on the effect of Marxism in literary work is an article entitled Class Exploitation in Ron Rash’s Serena Novel: A Marxist Criticism. The article studies Ron Rash’s novel Serena from a Marxist lens and focuses on its themes of class distinction and labor exploitation. It analyzes the social issue of exploitation and presents the differences between the two social classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Prominent characters like Serena, Buchanan, Wilkie and Pemberton are the owners of timber business and they represent the bourgeoisie who dominate the economy and possess control over the means of production in the society. On the contrary, the proletariat represent workers who depend on the bourgeoisie for employment, enduring various forms of exploitation. The narrative presents the contrast between the two classes where the wealth and authority of the upper class depend on the toil and subjugation of the lower class. In fact, it is the lower class that generates the upper class’s wealth. The analysis portray instances wherein injured or deceased laborers got replaced by other workers who, despite the risks associated with the job, eagerly wait for employment opportunities. Pemberton and his partners considered the proletariat as commodities who can be replaced easily and cheaply. Within the article’s analysis, four distinct types of labor exploitation are depicted in the novel. The first type is the excessively prolonged working hours that surpass eleven hours a day. Laborers had to do heavy and continuous work thus increasing productivity and enriching the capitalists. The second type of exploitation is the inadequate economic return and the inappropriate wages. A conversation between Serena and Pemberton reveals that workers are paid two dollars a day, with the consideration to raise it to two-ten fearing that skilled men would seek other employment opportunities. Furthermore, the study analyzes the form of labor exploitation of the capitalist employers toward their workers in terms of cheap labor that does not appropriate with the long working hours. The third form of exploitation pertains to the terrible living conditions endured by the workers, such as living in a boxcar. Another conversation between Serena and Pemberton underscores that workers had no electricity except in the dining hall and they believe that it is the best way for them to keep their hard work because a Spartan lifestyle, devoid of basic amenities, would ensure hard work. The last kind of exploitation studied in this article is the hazardous nature of the labor itself, with workers forced into labor using unsafe tools or into dangerous environment. Dangerous labor also include working in moody ground and in terrible weather. As a result, many incidents of injury and death were recorded and laborers face risks such as getting beheaded by a snapped cable, losing toes and fingers, dying as a result of slipping as they try to protect themselves from falling trees, getting lost in snowballs and falling from edges of cliffs (Nurman et al., 2020). Therefore, the study focuses on the struggle between the lower and upper classes and underscores various forms of exploitation inflicted upon the working class. It unveils various dimensions of laborers’ exploitation and depicts their harsh realities in a capitalist society.
Another scholarly article entitled George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four: A Marxist Study studies George Orwell’s 1984 from a Marxist perspective. It focuses on the three different classes that are presented in the narrative: the Inner Party, the outer Party and the Proles. In Oceania, where the novel takes place, the Inner Party constitutes the ruling class and makes up to 2 percent of the population though they are the real owners of the Oceania. Conversely, the Outer Party constitutes the middle class, representing 13 percent of the population but lacking a voice. The Proles represent the working class that constitute 85 percent of the populace yet treated badly. The Inner Party has a luxurious life, enjoying privileges such as automobiles, helicopter, personal servants and good food and beverages. On the other hand, the Outer Party are so miserable; they are confined to low quality food and beverages. They can buy their groceries from the Proles market that steals from the Inner Party. The Proles are served with alcohol, pornography and gambling and are neglected and marginalized. A character who works in the Ministry of Truth named Wiston Smith struggles under the oppressive regime of the Inner Party represented by Big Brother. They dehumanizes everyone who thinks differently than the way they do. As Winston keeps record of his thoughts, he becomes under the Party members’ watchful eye because his deed is considered a “thought crime.” Winston envisions the potential threat of the middle class to the Inner Party and figures out the reason why they have limited access to power and knowledge. With some ink, Winston threatens them and makes rebellious actions. Winston believes that hope lies with the Proles as they form the greatest part of Oceania and therefore their alliance with the Outer Party can envision a transformative revolt against the Inner Party. The novel’s message is that of a socialist revolution in such a capitalist country. Winston’s idea is analogous to Karl Marx’s belief that in a capitalist society, the most dangerous class is the proletariats who are destined to revolt against the capitalist government. Winston understood the ideology of the Inner Party: As people stay physically and psychologically submissive to the Inner Party, the latter gain more power and control over the people. The inner Party provides a tiny amount of currency that does not permit the purchase of human needs, sustaining economic deprivation. They also sustain political deprivation as those who work at the government have no idea that their work is strengthening the already powerful Party. Another Marxist tendency is the Party’s propaganda where they deceive people into believing in their benevolence and protection from their enemies as the proles believe them and think that what they are doing is a high-quality thing that they won’t be able to do. The Inner Party succeeds thereby in hiding their true intention of control and dominance over laborers who are considered as commodities in their rulers’ hands. The article ends with the conclusion that the civilization seen in Oceania reflects contemporary societies marked by the brutal regimes operating under capital governments. Through the Marxist study of George Orwell’s novel, 1984, the novel is seen as political statement warning against the realities that might arise as a result of totalitarian capitalist societies (Al-Dmour, 2020).
Within the Marxist framework, all human activities can be explained in terms of economic power. From a Marxist viewpoint, society is divided into two primary socioeconomic classes: the bourgeoisie or the “haves” and the proletariat or the “have-nots.” The “haves” exert control over the world’s economy and resources, enjoying financial security. On the other hand, the “have-nots” are economically marginalized and constitute the majority of the population. They also engage in manual labor and essentially contribute to the prosperity of the “haves.” The “have-nots” tend to be the last to recognize the “haves’ ” ideology that perpetuate their poverty and further enriches the “haves.” Through repressive agendas, the “haves’ ” ideology forms a cultural conditioning and presents itself as a natural way of perceiving the world, concealing its ideological nature. Here comes the importance of Marxism; it functions to raise awareness of such repressive ideologies and illuminates the fact that individuals are products of historical and material circumstances that obscure their realization of this reality, leading them to subscribe to the dominant power structure of Capitalism, an economic system rooted in private ownership of the means of production. Marxism, as an opponent to Capitalism, seeks to expose the detrimental effects of Capitalism in relation to commodities. For Marxists, the value of a commodity is not based on its usefulness or functionality but instead, it lies in its exchange value, which is essentially the monetary worth it can command in trade. Additionally, the value of a commodity can be associated with the social status it bestows upon its owner. Such value is referred to as its sign-exchange value. Consequently, an object is considered a commodity only when it possesses a sign-exchange value or an exchange value. In other words, when a book is read for informational purposes or even used to stabilize a table leg, it inherently has value. However, when that book is sold, it acquires an exchange value. If the same book is be left on a table to impress others, it then assumes a sign-exchange value. The concept of commodities is not only related to inanimate objects, but it extends to encompass human beings. Interpersonal relations can be structured in a manner that promotes one’s financial or social advancement, and thus, individuals can be treated as commodities and they are, as a result, objectified. Marx, in his draft writings for “Capital,” asserted that in a capitalist system, slavery takes on its most hateful form when the decisive factor in production is the exchange value of commodities. Consequently, enslaved Africans are literally subjected to a form of “death” as the extension of the workday surpasses all reasonable limits (Marx, 1867). Marx believed that slavery was not a peripheral component of Capitalism but a central one as he wrote in The Poverty of Philosophy (1847):
Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns, as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery that has given value to the colonies, it is the colonies that have created world trade, and world trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance.
Commodities, whether animate or inanimate objects, necessitate access to markets. Capitalism is in constant need of such access; thus, it contributes to the spread of imperialism. The latter can be defined as the subjugation of one nation by another, mainly for the economic advantages of the dominant nation, and without any regard for the well-being of the subjugated peoples. An illustrative example of this dynamic is the United States’ historical subordination of native populations in South, Central, and North America. Imperialist nations typically establish colonies in underdeveloped regions and exploit them for the sake of expanding their economic interests. Capitalists extend their sphere of influence; they do not only colonize geography but they also colonize the consciousness of subordinate peoples. In other words, they persuade colonies that they are intellectually, culturally and spiritually inferior to their imperialist rulers and that their fortunes can only improve under the guidance and guardianship of the dominant power. A good illustration of this can be observed in the United States in the context of antebellum slave owners. They sought to convince enslaved Africans that in the absence of their white masters, they would revert to cannibalism. The aim was to effectively colonize their consciousness inculcating in them the notion that they were uncivilized beings and godless savages. (Tyson, 2006). Marx had always thought of resistance and he consistently emphasized the interconnectedness of capitalism and slavery throughout his writings. He equates the resistance of Black individuals with those of the lower working class and their struggles. To him, both had the potential to serve as forms of anti-capitalist resistance. Through Marxist praxis of scrutinizing the commodity and the class division within societies, the novel The Underground Railroad is analyzed.
The Underground Railroad from a Marxist Lens
Based on Marxist praxis, Whitehead’s novel, The Underground Railroad, is analyzed.
Colson Whitehead’s literary work, The Underground Railroad exhibits several Marxist characteristics. The events depicted in The Underground Railroad unfolded in the mid-19th century, hence they coincide with the public formulation of Marxism by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto. Many incidents in the novel demonstrate a connection to Marxist principles. Notably, the practice of selling enslaved Africans multiple times based on market demand is among the aspects that can be analyzed through a Marxist lens. Enslaved Africans were treated as commodities, viewed as financial investments that were bought and sold in exchange for other goods or labor. They were likened to objects with either an exchange value or a sign-exchange value. When enslaved Africans were purchased for their labor or in exchange for valuable items, they possessed an exchange value. However, when slave owners acquired slaves primarily to boast about their wealth and their possessions to society, these slaves had sign-exchange value. The existence of such values creates the perception that enslaved individuals are mere objects, with their worth determined by the prevailing social and economic context in which they were bought and traded. The representation of the commodification of enslaved Africans proves that their value is not intrinsic, but it is rather defined by their exchange value, represented by the goods they can be traded for, and their sign-exchange value, represented by the social status conveyed by their possession. Commodification, as defined by Tyson (2006), involves treating both objects and people as commodities, wherein their significance is solely derived from the benefit they offer to those who possess them. There are also numerous references to commodification of human being in the novel. Cora’s grandmother is a good example in the novel. According to Whitehead (2016):
She was sold a few times on the trek to the fort, passed between slavers for cowrie shells and glass beads. It was hard to say how much they paid for her in Ouidah as she was part of a bulk purchase, eighty-eight human souls for sixty crates of rum and gunpowder, the price arrived upon after the standard haggling in Coast English. Able-bodied men and child- bearing women fetched more than juveniles, making an individual accounting difficult (p.3).
In Whitehead’s novel, the commodification of slaves is evident in the way that masters and white individuals relate to enslaved Africans: through economic transactions. Enslaved Africans were bought and sold as though they were mere commodities in a marketplace. This commodification of enslaved Africans can be linked to the oppression and aggression inherent in the capitalist repressive ideology. Treating slaves as “property” rather than human beings is part of the capitalist economic system, where enslaved Africans were forced into labor to generate profits for their masters. In the novel, Felice, an enslaved African, exemplifies the concept of sign-exchange value. As depicted by Whitehead (2016), when young Edgar Delany turned ten, he received Felice as a gift. As Edgar matured, he shared “her parables about human nature with guests whenever she disappeared into the kitchen so that when she returned their faces glowed with affection and jealousy” (p.192). Edgar’s intention was to make his guests jealous of his ownership of a slave, and this definitely accentuates Felice’s sign-exchange value. It is worth noting that Felice was not the only enslaved individual in the novel with sign-exchange value; other slaves were similarly given as “wedding gifts” to families (Whitehead, 2016).
The worth of enslaved Africans was also based on the places they find them in after their escape. According to Whitehead (2016), “An absconded slave might fetch as little as two dollars if the owner was a skinflint or the nigger was busted, and as much as a hundred dollars, double that if captured out of state” (p.76). Auctions also played a vital role in determining the fate of enslaved Africans. Cora’s grandmother, Ajarry, and her family made every effort to avoid being separated during the auction in Ouidah, yet “the rest of her family was purchased by Portuguese traders from the frigate Vivilia” (Whitehead, The Underground Railroad, 2016, p. 4). Similarly, Caesar’s fate on the Randall plantation was a result of an auction in Savannah that led to his placement there. Auctions typically involve the buying and selling of goods through a bidding process, with the item going to the highest bidder. Buyers are often satisfied from these transactions, perceiving them as good deals or valuable assets. Slaves, however, were treated in precisely the same manner as inanimate objects, bought and sold to satisfy the desires of their owners. Though considered inanimate objects, they are advantageous at one point: reproduction. What set slaves apart from inanimate objects was their ability to reproduce. Therefore, the purchase of a slave was considered a profitable investment, akin to acquiring a bundle of labor.
The novel is rich in terminology and expressions that allude to Marxist themes and accentuate the economic dimension of the world it portrays. Phrases such as “branded,” “purchased,” “bought,” “a good price,” “sold,” “resold,” “a drop in price,” “her price fluctuated,” “the trader,” “the property of…,” “had her pick,” “profitable,” and “reproduce” are present throughout the narrative. These examples collectively underscore the notion that, as the novel states, “In America the quirk was that people were things” (Whitehead, The Underground Railroad, 2016, p. 6).
In addition to Marx’s commodity, Marxist economic division of society into classes can also be applied to The Underground Railroad. Marxists focus on the “have-nots” and the lower class aims to bring about societal revolutions against the ruling class in the same manner that marginalized groups might revolt against the white. The white supremacy is a reflection of the dominance of the upper class, and the lower class’s inferiority mirrors that of enslaved Africans. The intent of the white is to have the lower class, symbolized by enslaved Africans, perform labor on their behalf. One could argue that the “have-nots” are akin to the slaves who worked on cotton plantations for the benefit of the “haves.” The “haves” depended on them to meet their demand for raw cotton, and the work would have been unattainable without the labor of the “have-nots.” Consequently, slavery became the cornerstone of the Southern economy. Analogously, promises are made to the lower class, assuring them that their social status will ascend and that they will attain economic power. However, these promises ultimately prove futile, as they serve to maintain the lower class’s silence while enriching the upper class.
The study of Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad from a Marxist lens can be regarded as a way to re-construct history of marginalized, overlooked and deliberately neglected populations, such as enslaved Africans. Throughout the study, the history of such underrepresented groups gain a representation. Ideas of slaves’ inferiority, cannibalism and ignorance are created culturally and are not related to slaves’ instincts. Through the Marxist’s study, it is sensed that such made-up ideas about the slave is a kind of a Capitalist ideology that the white use to justify their actions. Marxism fights Capitalism and reveals its true intentions of objectifying enslaved Africans for the sake of keeping themselves high on the social rank, having someone to do the work on plantations for them and filling their own coffers. Enslaved Africans’ history of oppression, cruelty and extermination is unveiled through a Marxist study. Enslaved Africans did not have a value as human beings but gained an exchange value and a sign exchange value. Their value was determined by objects they could be traded for or by their labor. Their value was also determined by the social image they create to their owners who boast about their possessions of slaves. They represent the lower class that Marx talked about in his The Communist Manifesto who reflect the “have-nots” who would always live in the illusion that only through hard work and persistence, they can reach a higher level in society. The Marxist study thus gave an insight into the history of enslaved Africans during the antebellum period.
Marxism is a literary theory that aids in the construction of the history of slaves in the antebellum period. Through its praxis, the novel is analyzed. The same ideology that divides society into bourgeoisie, the haves, and proletariat, the have-nots, divides the slaves from the slave owners or the black from the white. The contribution of the proletariat’s labor and its role as an important factor in the enrichment of the bourgeoisie that Marx talked about is a mirror to the circumstances of enslaved Africans who worked on cotton plantations. They effectively filled the coffers of their proletariat. This socioeconomic structure and the hierarchical division of the ‘Haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ did not only affect the “have-nots” economically, but it also influenced the social context. Assurances of freedom were extended. Promises made by the white population to emancipate the black community is a reflection of the promises of the “haves” to the “have-nots” to ascent within society. In addition to scrutinizing the societal division, Marxist praxis of commodity is studied. Manifold incidents in the novel reveal how slaves were treated as commodities, being bought and sold in auctions. They gained a value only through transactions with other goods. Consequently, they gained an exchange value that is determined thoroughly through economic transactions. They also gained a sign- exchange value as they represented a prestigious image for their owners who boasted about owning slaves. Therefore, this article seeks to explore the historical experiences of enslaved Africans during the 19th century. Using Marxist analytical framework of class struggle and commodity, the study aims to delve into the experiences of black people during their enslavement. It also unearths incidents of exploitation, oppression and dimensions of power during that historical period.
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 – Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Human Sciences, Beirut Arab University
كلية العلوم الإنسانية قسم اللغة الإنجليزية وآدابها – – طالبة دكتوراه في جامعة بيروت العربية