The Musee de quai Branly has a superb-looking exhibition on about colonial exhibition. Despite its controversial beginnings, Jacques Chirac’s museum seems to be doing pretty well. About a year ago they had a fantastic show on the Négritude journal Presénce Africaine. Human Zoos: The Creation of the Savage, is curated by Lilian Thuram, the footballer famed for producing these goals against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup semi-final and loved for his words againt Sarkozy’s 2005 branding of the young people of the banlieues racaillewho needed to be hosed out:

“When Sarkozy talks about hosing out scum I take it personally,” fumed the Juventus centre-back, who was born in Guadeloupe but grew up in Fougeres, a ‘quartier difficile’ on the outskirts of Fontainebleau. “Using words like these is irresponsible in the current climate. People used to call me scum when I was a kid on the estate, but I wasn’t scum. I just wanted to work. The situation makes me sick. Nobody is asking the right questions. Nobody is trying to look at the real problems.” (via)

Of course Ota Benga’s and Sartjie Baartman’s stories are told, but alongside thousands of elided others. (My academic crush) Achille Mbembe is also speaking at one of the exhibition talks. So if you’re in the area before 3rd June 2012: 

HUMAN ZOOS, The invention of the savage unveils the history of women, men and children brought from Africa, Asia, Oceania and America to be exhibited in the Western world in circus numbers, theatre or cabaret performances, fairs, zoos, parades, reconstructed villages or international and colonial fairs. The practice started in the 16th Century royal courts and continued to increase until the mid-20th Century in Europe, America and Japan.

2 years ago

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