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  • Dehumanisation: Guest Post

    20th June 2012. Guest Post on Marsha Moore's blog.

    Hi Everyone.

    Today I’m going to talk about dehumanisation, one of the dominant themes in my debut novel Dark Genesis.

    My protagonist, Luna, is a female slave who is forcibly taken away from everything she knows by a vampire. On the surface, the two appear to have absolutely nothing in common. But in chapter 11 Luna states:

    “...I felt a sort of kinship with him as I recognised a slave’s broken spirit when I saw one. Whilst I was bound by my white Master, this creature was bound by the need for blood that compelled him to kill...”

    The individual she is referring to is a white male who also happens to have enviable physical attributes such as eternal youth, superior speed, strength and other supernatural powers. So why would she refer to someone, who is probably the most powerful character in the book, as a slave?

    Most people believe that slavers were innately evil, something I don’t believe. Some were, but most were probably decent people who became corrupted by slavery.

    Slavers had to believe that what they were doing was right in order for the slave trade to continue and this is where dehumanisation comes in. The general consensus at the time was that blacks were sub-human and that this justified keeping them as slaves. This view was sanctioned by the law. It was also supported by scientists of that time. And, unfortunately, in any society if enough people say that a certain course of action is acceptable, most people will set aside what they know to be right and follow the herd. It was true then and it’s true now.

    It was also essential that those that were being enslaved accepted their position in society, and in order for that to happen, they had to believe that they were inferior. Naming, or using derogatory terms such as n*gger and the attributes associated with that word, was one of the tools used to dehumanised blacks. This is why I don’t think it will ever be acceptable for rappers to use it – but that is a whole other topic :-)

    Slaves also weren’t able to choose their own names; their Master normally chose their names. It seems like such a small thing, but having that power taken away from a person does have an effect on the psyche. Another tool that was used to make slaves accept their position in society was religion – the idea of suffering on earth and receiving your reward in Heaven.

    So having said all that, can the vampire really be seen as a slave? Yes, he can. We do not get his name until chapter 11, he is not seen as a man by society at large and the bloodlust that compels him to kill has made him despise himself. He should be the most powerful character, but in some ways he is the weakest as he has become so dehumanised that he has completely forgotten who he is.

    In Dark Genesis, the dehumanisation those two characters have suffered creates a bond which defies the conventions of that time and helps them find their way back from their dehumanising experiences.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my guest post and I hope you all have a pleasant day.

    ADK x.

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