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Salvage WorkU.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood$
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Angela Naimou

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264766

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264766.001.0001

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The Free, the Slave, and the Disappeared

The Free, the Slave, and the Disappeared

States and Sites of Exceptional Personhood in Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman

(p.47) 1 The Free, the Slave, and the Disappeared
Salvage Work

Angela Naimou

Fordham University Press

This chapter demonstrates how sites of exception generate exceptional legal identities in Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman, from the broken cargo ship holding an abandoned crew of Central American workers to nearby sites of burial, detention, and unauthorized refuge. Competing modes for the salvage of property, labor, and capital in the novel generate slippages between legal identities of the enslaved person, seaman, human trafficking victim, alien, free wage laborer, and corporate person. This chapter reads the novel in relation to literary and legal texts including the U.S. Supreme Court maritime labor case Robertson v. Baldwin, the Jones Act, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, the open registries system (flags of convenience), and related penal, maritime, immigration, refugee, and labor law. It reviews how exceptional legal identities participate in U.S. debates over the history and commemoration of three related sites, New York’s African Burial Ground, Hart Island’s potters field, and Ellis Island.

Keywords:   maritime labor, flags of convenience, Robertson v. Baldwin, Jones Act, immigration, refugee, potters field, seaman, Francisco Goldman

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