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Week 8: Difference on Display

As the reach of empires expanded in the nineteenth century, metropolitan curiosity grew about the myriad peoples and cultures now subject to European rule. While images of different ‘ethnic types’ had long been circulated, there was now an increased appetite for entertainments that fed into notions of the ‘primitive’, ‘savage’, and ‘exotic’, spurring the movement of artefacts, human remains—and humans themselves—to Europe for display. In particular, ethnological shows offered spectators a chance to watch foreign peoples enact aspects of their culture, making a performance of racial difference. In this session, we will examine how such entertainments helped to consolidate the sense that non-Europeans were fundamentally dissimilar to Europeans in both body and mind.


Discussion Questions:

-What accounts for the popularity of ‘racial’ entertainments in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries?

-How did ethnological shows shape popular ideas about race?

-Did racial exhibitions in Europe help to justify imperialism?

-To what extent were performers in ethnological exhibitions able to shape their own image?


Required Readings:

*Bernth Lindfors, Early African Entertainments Abroad: From the Hottentot Venus to Africa's First Olympians (Madison, 2014), 'Ch 7: Dr Kahn and the Niam-Niams', pp.123-130.

*Saloni Mathur, ‘Living Ethnological Exhibits: The Case of 1886,’ Cultural History 15 (2000), 492-524

*Jan Nederveen Pieterse, White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture (New Haven, 1992), ‘Ch. 5: Colonialism and Western Popular Culture’, pp.76-101[extracts]

**Sadiah Qureshi, ‘Displaying Sara Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus”’, History of Science, 42 (2004), 233-257 [e-journal]

*Andrew Zimmerman, Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany (Chicago, 2001), ‘Ch. 1: Exotic Spectacles and the Global Context of German Anthropology,’ pp. 15-27 [e-book]

Further Readings:

Rikke Andreassen, Human Exhibitions: Gender and Sexuality in Ethnic Displays (London, 2015)

Nicolas Bancel, Thomas David and Dominic Thomas, The Invention of Race: Scientific and Popular Representations (New York, 2014)

Tim Barringer, ‘Images of Otherness and the Visual Production of Difference: Race and Labour in Illustrated Texts, 1850-1865,’in Shearer West (ed.) The Victorians and Race (Aldershot, 1996), pp. 34-52.

Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boetsch, Eric Deroo and Sandrine Lemaire 'Introduction: Human Zoos: The Greatest Exotic Shows in the West,' in Pascal Blanchard et al (eds.), Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empires (Liverpool, 2008), pp. 1-49 [extracts]

Marieke Bloembergen, The Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies at the World Exhibitions, 1880-1931, tr. Beverley Jackson (Singapore, 2006)

Alice L. Conklin, In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology, and Empire in France, 1850-1950 (Ithaca, 2013), ‘Ch.4: Skulls on Display: Antiracism, Racism, and Racial Science,’ pp. 145-188.

Clifton C. Crais and Pamela Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: A Ghost Story and Biography (Princeton, 2011)

Katelyn Knox, Race on Display in 20th and 21st Century France (Liverpool, 2016), [e-book]

Bernth Lindfors (ed.) Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Show Business (Bloomington, 1999)

Anne Maxwell, Colonial Photography and Exhibitions: Representatives of the ‘Native’ and the Making of European Identities (London, 1999)

Sadiah Qureshi, Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire, and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Chicago, 2011)

Nigel Rothfels, Savages and Beasts: Birth of the Modern Zoo (Baltimore, 2002), ‘Ch. 3: “Fabulous Animals”: Showing People,’ pp. 81-142.

Londa Schiebinger, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science (Boston, 1993), ‘Ch. 5: Theories of Gender and Race,’ pp.143-183