chapter  16
Intimate Truths about Subjectivity and Sexuality: A Psychoanalytical and a Postcolonial Approach: Henrietta L. Moore and Gloria D. Wekker
ByHENRIETTA L. MOORE, GLORIA D. WEKKER
Pages 13

In this chapter we, two feminist anthropologists, are in constructive conversation about a little-known, tantalisingly short Dutch psychoanalytical case study from 1917, in which three apparently white and upper-class Dutch women claim to possess ‘Hottentot nymphae.’ This is the coded contemporary term used to refer to the supposed morphology of black women’s genitalia, i.e., the three women are implying that they possess overdeveloped labia minora. We pose somewhat different sets of questions to the case study. While Wekker argues that with the term Hottentot nymphae, the women are implicitly making meaningful statements about gender, race, sexuality and subjectivity, Moore claims that we simply do not have enough information to understand really what is happening with these women, and instead focuses on the racial and gendered images circulating in the analytic context and cultural production. Using psychoanalytic, postcolonial and intersectional approaches, in each of our readings we lay out the content, signifi cance and context of the case study. Through close reading and analysis of this case study we hope to show, fi rst and foremost, the different and complementary contributions these various approaches offer to the analysis of subjectivity, sexuality, gender and race. Our analyses jointly serve to illustrate our key insight that the concepts of self and other that came into being in Western modernity were dependent on the politics of colonial relations. Thus, as we will claim, it does not make sense to understand white female subjectivity in abstraction from gender and race.