Amy Knight Powell
Associate Professor of Art History
University of Southern California
“A Picture of an Interior in the Slave-fort at Elmina c. 1669”
In 1669, a forgotten Dutch painter named Pieter de Wit depicted the private quarters of the Director-General of the Dutch West India Company in Africa, luxurious rooms situated on the upper floor of the slave-fort in Elmina—well above the barracoons in the dungeon. This depiction of a seventeenth-century colonial interior offers a glimpse into the early modern formation of the racialized ideology of liberal personhood, which deploys domestic space as a metaphor for the interiority of the human subject.