« Zoos humains »: Arte invente la théorie du complot pour tous (It’s domination and racism, stupid ! – From commercial ethnological to colonial and missionary exhibitions, looking back at the very problematic indiscriminate use of the concept of the “human zoo”)

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Poster of an ethnological exposition in 1885 (picture-alliance/akg-images)

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Theodor Wonja Michael's parents (Familie Michael)

Malheur à vous, scribes et pharisiens hypocrites! parce que vous bâtissez les tombeaux des prophètes et ornez les sépulcres des justes, et que vous dites: Si nous avions vécu du temps de nos pères, nous ne nous serions pas joints à eux pour répandre le sang des prophètes. Vous témoignez ainsi contre vous-mêmes que vous êtes les fils de ceux qui ont tué les prophètes. Jésus (Matthieu 23: 29-31)
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Il n’y a plus ni Juif ni Grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni libre, il n’y a plus ni homme ni femme; car tous vous êtes un en Jésus Christ. Paul (Galates 3: 28)
Je pense qu’il y a plus de barbarie à manger un homme vivant qu’à le manger mort, à déchirer par tourments et par géhennes un corps encore plein de sentiment, le faire rôtir par le menu, le faire mordre et meurtrir aux chiens et aux pourceaux (comme nous l’avons non seulement lu, mais vu de fraîche mémoire, non entre des ennemis anciens, mais entre des voisins et concitoyens, et, qui pis est, sous prétexte de piété et de religion), que de le rôtir et manger après qu’il est trépassé. Il ne faut pas juger à l’aune de nos critères. (…) Je trouve… qu’il n’y a rien de barbare et de sauvage en cette nation, à ce qu’on m’en a rapporté, sinon que chacun appelle barbarie ce qui n’est pas de son usage. (…) Leur guerre est toute noble et généreuse, et a autant d’excuse et de beauté que cette maladie humaine en peut recevoir ; elle n’a d’autre fondement parmi eux que la seule jalousie de la vertu… Ils ne demandent à leurs prisonniers autre rançon que la confession et reconnaissance d’être vaincus ; mais il ne s’en trouve pas un, en tout un siècle, qui n’aime mieux la mort que de relâcher, ni par contenance, ni de parole, un seul point d’une grandeur de courage invincible ; il ne s’en voit aucun qui n’aime mieux être tué et mangé, que de requérir seulement de ne l’être pas. Ils les traitent en toute liberté, afin que la vie leur soit d’autant plus chère ; et les entretiennent communément des menaces de leur mort future, des tourments qu’ils y auront à souffrir, des apprêts qu’on dresse pour cet effet, du détranchement de leurs membres et du festin qui se fera à leurs dépens. Tout cela se fait pour cette seule fin d’arracher de leur bouche parole molle ou rabaissée, ou de leur donner envie de s’enfuir, pour gagner cet avantage de les avoir épouvantés, et d’avoir fait force à leur constance. Car aussi, à le bien prendre, c’est en ce seul point que consiste la vraie victoire. Montaigne
Etrange destinée, étrange préférence que celle de l’ethnographe, sinon de l’anthropologue, qui s’intéresse aux hommes des antipodes plutôt qu’à ses compatriotes, aux superstitions et aux mœurs les plus déconcertantes plutôt qu’aux siennes, comme si je ne sais quelle pudeur ou prudence l’en dissuadait au départ. Si je n’étais pas convaincu que les lumières de la psychanalyse sont fort douteuses, je me demanderais quel ressentiment se trouve sublimé dans cette fascination du lointain, étant bien entendu que refoulement et sublimation, loin d’entraîner de ma part quelque condamnation ou condescendance, me paraissent dans la plupart des cas authentiquement créateurs. (…) Peut-être cette sympathie fondamentale, indispensable pour le sérieux même du travail de l’ethnographe, celui-ci n’a-t-il aucun mal à l’acquérir. Il souffre plutôt d’un défaut symétrique de l’hostilité vulgaire que je relevais il y a un instant. Dès le début, Hérodote n’est pas avare d’éloges pour les Scythes, ni Tacite pour les Germains, dont il oppose complaisamment les vertus à la corruption impériale. Quoique évoque du Chiapas, Las Casas me semble plus occupé à défendre les Indiens qu’à les convertir. Il compare leur civilisation avec celle de l’antiquité gréco-latine et lui donne l’avantage. Les idoles, selon lui, résultent de l’obligation de recourir à des symboles communs à tous les fidèles. Quant aux sacrifices humains, explique-t-il, il ne convient pas de s’y opposer par la force, car ils témoignent de la grande et sincère piété des Mexicains qui, dans l’ignorance où ils se trouvent de la crucifixion du Sauveur, sont bien obligés de lui inventer un équivalent qui n’en soit pas indigne. Je ne pense pas que l’esprit missionnaire explique entièrement un parti-pris de compréhension, que rien ne rebute. La croyance au bon sauvage est peut-être congénitale de l’ethnologie. (…) Nous avons eu les oreilles rebattues de la sagesse des Chinois, inventant la poudre sans s’en servir que pour les feux d’artifice. Certes. Mais, d’une part l’Occident a connu lui aussi la poudre sans longtemps l’employer pour la guerre. Au IXe siècle, le Livre des Feux, de Marcus Graecus en contient déjà la formule ; il faudra attendre plusieurs centaines d’années pour son utilisation militaire, très exactement jusqu’à l’invention de la bombarde, qui permet d’en exploiter la puissance de déflagration. Quant aux Chinois, dès qu’ils ont connu les canons, ils en ont été acheteurs très empressés, avant qu’ils n’en fabriquent eux-mêmes, d’abord avec l’aide d’ingénieurs européens. Dans l’Afrique contemporaine, seule la pauvreté ralentit le remplacement du pilon par les appareils ménagers fabriqués à Saint-Étienne ou à Milan. Mais la misère n’interdit pas l’invasion des récipients en plastique au détriment des poteries et des vanneries traditionnelles. Les plus élégantes des coquettes Foulbé se vêtent de cotonnades imprimées venues des Pays-Bas ou du Japon. Le même phénomène se produit d’ailleurs de façon encore plus accélérée dans la civilisation scientifique et industrielle, béate d’admiration devant toute mécanique nouvelle et ordinateur à clignotants. (…) Je déplore autant qu’un autre la disparition progressive d’un tel capital d’art, de finesse, d’harmonie. Mais je suis tout aussi impuissant contre les avantages du béton et de l’électricité. Je ne me sens d’ailleurs pas le courage d’expliquer leur privilège à ceux qui en manquent. (…) Les indigènes ne se résignent pas à demeurer objets d’études et de musées, parfois habitants de réserves où l’on s’ingénie à les protéger du progrès. Étudiants, boursiers, ouvriers transplantés, ils n’ajoutent guère foi à l’éloquence des tentateurs, car ils en savent peu qui abandonnent leur civilisation pour cet état sauvage qu’ils louent avec effusion. Ils n’ignorent pas que ces savants sont venus les étudier avec sympathie, compréhension, admiration, qu’ils ont partagé leur vie. Mais la rancune leur suggère que leurs hôtes passagers étaient là d’abord pour écrire une thèse, pour conquérir un diplôme, puisqu’ils sont retournés enseigner à leurs élèves les coutumes étranges, « primitives », qu’ils avaient observées, et qu’ils ont retrouvé là-bas du même coup auto, téléphone, chauffage central, réfrigérateur, les mille commodités que la technique traîne après soi. Dès lors, comment ne pas être exaspéré d’entendre ces bons apôtres vanter les conditions de félicité rustique, d’équilibre et de sagesse simple que garantit l’analphabétisme ? Éveillées à des ambitions neuves, les générations qui étudient et qui naguère étaient étudiées, n’écoutent pas sans sarcasme ces discours flatteurs où ils croient reconnaître l’accent attendri des riches, quand ils expliquent aux pauvres que l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur, – encore moins, sans doute, ne le font les ressources de la civilisation industrielle. À d’autres. Roger Caillois (1974)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. René Girard
Nous sommes encore proches de cette période des grandes expositions internationales qui regardait de façon utopique la mondialisation comme l’Exposition de Londres – la « Fameuse » dont parle Dostoievski, les expositions de Paris… Plus on s’approche de la vraie mondialisation plus on s’aperçoit que la non-différence ce n’est pas du tout la paix parmi les hommes mais ce peut être la rivalité mimétique la plus extravagante. On était encore dans cette idée selon laquelle on vivait dans le même monde: on n’est plus séparé par rien de ce qui séparait les hommes auparavant donc c’est forcément le paradis. Ce que voulait la Révolution française. Après la nuit du 4 août, plus de problème ! René Girard
Nous sommes entrés dans un mouvement qui est de l’ordre du religieux. Entrés dans la mécanique du sacrilège : la victime, dans nos sociétés, est entourée de l’aura du sacré. Du coup, l’écriture de l’histoire, la recherche universitaire, se retrouvent soumises à l’appréciation du législateur et du juge comme, autrefois, à celle de la Sorbonne ecclésiastique. Françoise Chandernagor
Malgré le titre général, en effet, dès l’article 1, seules la traite transatlantique et la traite qui, dans l’océan Indien, amena des Africains à l’île Maurice et à la Réunion sont considérées comme « crime contre l’humanité ». Ni la traite et l’esclavage arabes, ni la traite interafricaine, pourtant très importants et plus étalés dans le temps puisque certains ont duré jusque dans les années 1980 (au Mali et en Mauritanie par exemple), ne sont concernés. Le crime contre l’humanité qu’est l’esclavage est réduit, par la loi Taubira, à l’esclavage imposé par les Européens et à la traite transatlantique. (…) Faute d’avoir le droit de voter, comme les Parlements étrangers, des « résolutions », des voeux, bref des bonnes paroles, le Parlement français, lorsqu’il veut consoler ou faire plaisir, ne peut le faire que par la loi. (…) On a l’impression que la France se pose en gardienne de la mémoire universelle et qu’elle se repent, même à la place d’autrui, de tous les péchés du passé. Je ne sais si c’est la marque d’un orgueil excessif ou d’une excessive humilité mais, en tout cas, c’est excessif ! […] Ces lois, déjà votées ou proposées au Parlement, sont dangereuses parce qu’elles violent le droit et, parfois, l’histoire. La plupart d’entre elles, déjà, violent délibérément la Constitution, en particulier ses articles 34 et 37. (…) les parlementaires savent qu’ils violent la Constitution mais ils n’en ont cure. Pourquoi ? Parce que l’organe chargé de veiller au respect de la Constitution par le Parlement, c’est le Conseil constitutionnel. Or, qui peut le saisir ? Ni vous, ni moi : aucun citoyen, ni groupe de citoyens, aucun juge même, ne peut saisir le Conseil constitutionnel, et lui-même ne peut pas s’autosaisir. Il ne peut être saisi que par le président de la République, le Premier ministre, les présidents des Assemblées ou 60 députés. (…) La liberté d’expression, c’est fragile, récent, et ce n’est pas total : il est nécessaire de pouvoir punir, le cas échéant, la diffamation et les injures raciales, les incitations à la haine, l’atteinte à la mémoire des morts, etc. Tout cela, dans la loi sur la presse de 1881 modifiée, était poursuivi et puni bien avant les lois mémorielles. Françoise Chandernagor
La tendance à légiférer sur le passé (…) est née des procédures lancées, dans les années 1970, contre d’anciens nazis et collaborateurs ayant participé à l’extermination des juifs. Celles-ci utilisaient pour la première fois l’imprescriptibilité des crimes contre l’humanité, votée en 1964. Elles devaient aboutir aux procès Barbie, Touvier et Papon. (…) L’innovation juridique des « procès pour la mémoire » se justifiait, certes, par l’importance et la singularité du génocide des juifs, dont la signification n’est apparue que deux générations plus tard. Elle exprimait cependant un changement radical dans la place que nos sociétés assignent à l’histoire, dont on n’a pas fini de prendre la mesure. Ces procès ont soulevé la question de savoir si, un demi-siècle après, les juges étaient toujours « contemporains » des faits incriminés. Ils ont montré à quel point la culture de la mémoire avait pris le pas, non seulement sur les politiques de l’oubli qui émergent après une guerre ou une guerre civile, afin de permettre une reconstruction, mais aussi sur la connaissance historique elle-même. L’illusion est ici de croire que la « mémoire » fabrique de l’identité sociale, qu’elle donne accès à la connaissance. Comment peut-on se souvenir de ce que l’on ignore, les historiens ayant précisément pour fonction, non de « remémorer » des faits, des acteurs, des processus du passé, mais bien de les établir ? Dans le cas du génocide des juifs, dans celui des Arméniens ou dans le cas de la guerre d’Algérie, encore pouvons-nous avoir le sentiment que ces faits appartiennent toujours au temps présent — que l’on soit ou non favorable aux « repentances ». L’identification reste possible de victimes précises, directes ou indirectes, et de bourreaux singuliers, individus ou Etats, à qui l’on peut demander réparation. Mais comment peut-on prétendre agir de la même manière sur des faits vieux de plusieurs siècles ? Comment penser sérieusement que l’on peut « réparer » les dommages causés par la traite négrière « à partir du XVe siècle » de la même manière que les crimes nazis, dont certains bourreaux habitent encore au coin de la rue ? (…) Pourquoi (…) promulguer une loi à seule fin rétroactive s’il n’y a aucune possibilité d’identifier des bourreaux, encore moins de les traîner devant un tribunal ? Pourquoi devons-nous être à ce point tributaires d’un passé qui nous est aussi étranger ? Pourquoi cette volonté d’abolir la distance temporelle et de proclamer que les crimes d’il y a quatre siècles ont des effets encore opérants ? Pourquoi cette réduction de l’histoire à la seule dimension criminelle et mortifère ? Et comment croire que les valeurs de notre temps sont à ce point estimables qu’elles puissent ainsi s’appliquer à tout ce qui nous a précédés ? En réalité, la plupart de ces initiatives relèvent de la surenchère politique. Elles sont la conséquence de la place que la plupart des pays démocratiques ont accordée au souvenir de la Shoah, érigé en symbole universel de la lutte contre toutes les formes de racisme. A l’évidence, le caractère universel de la démarche échappe à beaucoup. La mémoire de la Shoah est ainsi devenue un modèle jalousé, donc, à la fois, récusé et imitable : d’où l’urgence de recourir à la notion anachronique de crime contre l’humanité pour des faits vieux de trois ou quatre cents ans. Le passé n’est ici qu’un substitut, une construction artificielle — et dangereuse —, puisque le groupe n’est plus défini par une filiation passée ou une condition sociale présente, mais par un lien « historique » élaboré après coup, pour isoler une nouvelle catégorie à offrir à la compassion publique. Enfin, cette faiblesse s’exprime, une fois de plus, par un recours paradoxal à l’Etat, voie habituelle, en France, pour donner consistance à une « communauté » au sein de la nation. Sommé d’assumer tous les méfaits du passé, l’Etat se retrouve en même temps source du crime et source de rédemption. Outre la contradiction, cette « continuité » semble dire que l’histoire ne serait qu’un bloc, la diversité et l’évolution des hommes et des idées, une simple vue de l’esprit, et l’Etat, le seul garant d’une nouvelle histoire officielle « vertueuse ». C’est là une conception pour le moins réactionnaire de la liberté et du progrès. Henry Rousso
La loi (…) « portant reconnaissance de la nation et contribution nationale en faveur des Français rapatriés » risque, surtout en ses articles 1 et 4, de relancer une polémique dans laquelle les historiens ne se reconnaîtront guère. En officialisant le point de vue de groupes de mémoire liés à la colonisation, elle risque de générer en retour des simplismes symétriques, émanant de groupes de mémoire antagonistes, dont l' »histoire officielle » , telle que l’envisage cette loi, fait des exclus de l’histoire. Car, si les injonctions « colonialophiles » de la loi ne sont pas recevables, le discours victimisant ordinaire ne l’est pas davantage, ne serait-ce que parce qu’il permet commodément de mettre le mouchoir sur tant d’autres ignominies, actuelles ou anciennes, et qui ne sont pas forcément du ressort originel de l’impérialisme ou de ses formes historiques passées comme le(s) colonialisme(s). L’étude scientifique du passé ne peut se faire sous la coupe d’une victimisation et d’un culpabilisme corollaire. De ce point de vue, les débordements émotionnels portés par les »indigènes de la République » ne sont pas de mise. Des êtres humains ne sont pas responsables des ignominies commises par leurs ancêtres ­ – ou alors il faudrait que les Allemands continuent éternellement à payer leur épisode nazi. C’est une chose d’analyser, par exemple, les « zoos humains » de la colonisation. C’en est une autre que de confondre dans la commisération culpabilisante le « divers historique », lequel ne se réduit pas à des clichés médiatiquement martelés. Si la colonisation fut ressentie par les colonisés dans le rejet et la douleur, elle fut aussi vécue par certains dans l’ouverture, pour le modèle de société qu’elle offrait pour sortir de l’étouffoir communautaire. (…)Les historiens doivent travailler à reconstruire les faits et à les porter à la connaissance du public. Or ces faits établissent que la traite des esclaves, dans laquelle des Européens ont été impliqués (et encore, pas eux seuls), a porté sur environ 11 millions de personnes (27,5 % des 40 millions d’esclaves déportés), et que les trafiquants arabes s’y sont taillé la part du lion : la »traite orientale » fut responsable de la déportation de 17 millions de personnes (42,5 % d’entre eux) et la traite « interne » effectuée à l’intérieur de l’Afrique, porta, elle, sur 12 millions (30 %). Cela, ni Dieudonné ni les « Indigènes » , dans leur texte victimisant à sens unique, ne le disent ­ – même si, à l’évidence, la traite européenne fut plus concentrée dans le temps et plus rentable en termes de nombre de déportés par an. (…) L’historien ne se reconnaît pas dans l’affrontement des mémoires. Pour lui, elles ne sont que des documents historiques, à traiter comme tels. Il ne se reconnaît pas dans l’anachronisme, qui veut tout arrimer au passé ; il ne se reconnaît pas dans le manichéisme, qu’il provienne de la »nostalgérie » électoraliste vulgaire qui a présidé à la loi du 23 février 2005, ou qu’il provienne des simplismes symétriques qui surfent sur les duretés du présent pour emboucher les trompettes agressives d’un ressentiment déconnecté de son objet réel. Gilbert Meynier
The enigmatic showman Martin Couney showcased premature babies in incubators to early 20th century crowds on the Coney Island and Atlantic City boardwalks, and at expositions across the United States. A Prussian-born immigrant based on the East coast, Couney had no medical degree but called himself a physician, and his self-promoting carnival-barking incubator display exhibits actually ended up saving the lives of about 7,000 premature babies. These tiny infants would have died without Couney’s theatrics, but instead they grew into adulthood, had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and lived into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. This extraordinary story reveals a great deal about neonatology, and about life. (…) Drawing on extraordinary archival research as well as interviews, [Raffel’s] narrative is enhanced by her own reflections as she balanced her shock over how Couney saved these premature infants and also managed to make a living by displaying them like little freaks to the vast crowds who came to see them. Couney’s work with premature infants began in Europe as a carnival barker at an incubator exposition. It was there he fell in love with preemies and met his head nurse Louise Recht. Still, even allowing for his evident affection, making the preemies incubation a public show seems exploitative. But was it? In the 21st century, hospital incubators and NICUs are taken for granted, but over a hundred years ago, incubators were rarely used in hospitals, and sometimes they did far more harm than good.  Premature infants often went blind because of too much oxygen pumped into the incubators (Raffel notes that Stevie Wonder, himself a preemie, lost his sight this way). Yet the preemies Couney and his nurses — his wife Maye, his daughter Hildegard, and lead nurse Louise, known in the show as “Madame Recht” — cared for retained their vision. The reason? Couney was worried enough about this problem to use incubators developed by M. Alexandre Lion in France, which regulated oxygen flow. Today it is widely accept that every baby – premature or ones born to term – should be saved.  Not so in Couney’s time. Preemies were referred to as “weaklings,” and even some doctors believed their lives were not worth saving. While Raffel’s tale is inspiring, it is also horrific. She does not shy away from people like Dr. Harry Haiselden who, unlike Couney, was an actual M.D., but “denied lifesaving treatment to infants he deemed ‘defective,’ deliberately watching them die even when they could have lived.” (…) True, he was a showman, and during most of his career, he earned a good living from his incubator babies show, but Couney, an elegant man who fluently spoke German, French and English, didn’t exploit his preemies (Hildegard was a preemie too).  He gave them a chance at the lives they might not have been allowed to live. Couney used his showmanship to support all of this life-saving. He put on shows for boardwalk crowds, but he also, despite not having a medical degree, maintained his incubators according to high medical standards. In many ways, Couney’s practices were incredibly advanced. Babies were fed with breast milk exclusively, nurses provided loving touches frequently, and the babies were held, changed and bathed. (…) Yet the efforts of Dr. Couney’s his nurses went largely ignored by the medical profession and were only mentioned once in a medical journal. As Raffel writes in her book’s final page, “There is nothing at his  grave to indicate that [Martin Couney] did anything of note.” The same goes for Maye, Louise and Hildegard. Louise’s name was misspelled on her shared tombstone (Louise’s remains are interred in another family’s crypt), and Hildegard, whose remains are interred with Louise’s, did not even have her own name engraved on the shared tombstone. With the exception of Chicago’s Dr. Julius Hess, who is considered the father of neonatology, the majority of the medical establishment patronized and excluded Couney. Hess, though, respected Couney’s work and built on it with his own scientific approach and research; in the preface to his book Premature and Congenitally Diseased Infants, Hess acknowledges Couney “‘for his many helpful suggestions in the preparation of the material for this book.’” But Couney cared more about the babies than professional respect. His was a single-minded focus: even when it financially devastated him to do so, he persisted, so his preemies could live. National Book Review
Carl Hagenbeck had the idea to open zoos that weren’t only filled with animals, but also people. People were excited to discover humans from abroad: Before television and color photography were available, it was their only way to see them. Anne Dreesbach
The main feature of these multiform varieties of public show, which became widespread in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Europe and the United States, was the live presence of individuals who were considered “primitive”. Whilst these native peoples sometimes gave demonstrations of their skills or produced manufactures for the audience, more often their role was simply as exhibits, to display their bodies and gestures, their different and singular condition. In this article, the three main forms of modern ethnic show (commercial, colonial and missionary) will be presented, together with a warning about the inadequacy of categorising all such spectacles under the label of “human zoos”, a term which has become common in both academic and media circles in recent years. Luis A. Sánchez-Gómez
Between the 29th of November 2011 and the 3rd of June 2012, the Quai de Branly Museum in Paris displayed an extraordinary exhibition, with the eye-catching title Exhibitions. L’invention du sauvage, which had a considerable social and media impact. Its “scientific curators” were the historian Pascal Blanchard and the museum’s curator Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, with Guadalupe-born former footballer Lilian Thuram acting as “commissioner general”. A popular sportsman, Thuram is also known in France for his staunch social and political commitment. The exhibition was the culmination (although probably not the end point) of a successful project which had started in Marseille in 2001 with the conference entitled Mémoire colonial: zoos humains? Corps Exotiques, corps enfermés, corps mesurés. Over time, successive publications of the papers presented at that first meeting have given rise to a genuine publishing saga, thus far including three French editions, one in Italian, one in English and another in German. This remarkable repertoire is completed by the impressive catalogue of the exhibition. All of the book titles (with the exception of the catalogue) make reference to “human zoos” as their object of study, although in none of them are the words followed by a question mark, as was the case at the Marseille conference. This would seem to define “human zoos” as a well-documented phenomenon, the essence of which has been well-established. Most significantly, despite reiterating the concept, neither the catalogue of the exhibition, nor the texts drawn up by the exhibit’s editorial authorities, provide a precise definition of what a human zoo is understood to be. Nevertheless, the editors seem to accept the concept as being applicable to all of the various forms of public show featured in the exhibition, all of which seem to have been designed with a shared contempt for and exclusion of the “other”. Therefore, the label “human zoo” implicitly applies to a variety of shows whose common aim was the public display of human beings, with the sole purpose of showing their peculiar morphological or ethnic condition. Both the typology of the events and the condition of the individuals shown vary widely: ranging from the (generally individual) presentation of persons with crippling pathologies (exotic or more often domestic freaks or “human monsters”) to singular physical conditions (giants, dwarves or extremely obese individuals) or the display of individuals, families or groups of exotic peoples or savages, arrived or more usually brought, from distant colonies. The purpose of the 2001 conference had been to present the available information about such shows, to encourage their study from an academic perspective and, most importantly, to publicly denounce these material and symbolic contexts of domination and stigmatisation, which would have had a prominent role in the complex and dense animalisation mechanisms of the colonised peoples by the “civilized West”. A scientific and editorial project guided by such intentions could not fail to draw widespread support from academic, social and journalistic quarters. Reviews of the original 2002 text and successive editions have, for the most part, been very positive, and praise for what was certainly an extraordinary exhibition (the one of 2012) has been even more unanimous. However, most commentators have limited their remarks to praising the important anti-racist content and criticisms of the colonial legacy, which are common to both undertakings. Only a few authors have drawn attention to certain conceptual and interpretative problems with the presumed object of study, the “human zoos”, problems which would undermine the project’s solidity. (…) Although the public display of human beings can be traced far back in history in many different contexts (war, funerals and sacred contexts, prisons, fairs, etc…) the configuration and expansion of different varieties of ethnic shows are closely and directly linked to two historical phenomena which lie at the very basis of modernity: exhibitions and colonialism. The former began to appear at national contests and competitions (both industrial and agricultural). These were organised in some European countries in the second half of the eighteenth century, but it was only in the century that followed that they acquired new and shocking material and symbolic dimensions, in the shape of the international or universal exhibition.The key date was 1851, when the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was held in London. The triumph of the London event, its rapid and continuing success in France and the increasing participation (which will be outlined) of indigenous peoples from the colonies, paved the way from the 1880s for a new exhibition model: the colonial exhibition (whether official or private, national or international) which almost always featured the presence of indigenous human beings. However, less spectacular exhibitions had already been organised on a smaller scale for many years, since about the mid-nineteenth century. Some of these were truly impressive events, which in some cases also featured native peoples. These were the early missionary (or ethnological-missionary) exhibitions, which initially were mainly British and Protestant, but later also Catholic. Finally, the unsophisticated ethnological exhibitions which had been typical in England (particularly in London) in the early-nineteenth century, underwent a gradual transformation from the middle of the century, which saw them develop into the most popular form of commercial ethnological exhibition. These changes were initially influenced by the famous US circus impresario P.T. Barnum’s human exhibitions. Later on, from 1874, Barnum’s displays were successfully reinterpreted (through the incorporation of wild animals and groups of exotic individuals) by Carl Hagenbeck.The second factor which was decisive in shaping the modern ethnic show was imperial colonialism, which gathered in momentum from the 1870s. The propagandising effect of imperialism was facilitated by two emerging scientific disciplines, physical anthropology and ethnology, which propagated colonial images and mystifications amid the metropolitan population. This, coupled with robust new levels of consumerism amongst the bourgeoisie and the upper strata of the working classes, had a greater impact upon our subject than the economic and geostrategic consequences of imperialism overseas. In fact, the new context of geopolitical, scientific and economic expansion turned the formerly “mysterious savages” into a relatively accessible object of study for certain sections of society. Regardless of how much was written about their exotic ways of life, or strange religious beliefs, the public always wanted more: seeking participation in more “intense” and “true” encounters and to feel part of that network of forces (political, economic, military, academic and religious) that ruled even the farthest corners of the world and its most primitive inhabitants.It was precisely the convergence of this web of interests and opportunities within the new exhibition universe that had already consolidated by the end of the 1870s, and which was to become the defining factor in the transition. From the older, popular model of human exhibitions which had dominated so far, we see a reduction in the numbers of exhibitions of isolated individuals classified as strange, monstrous or simply exotic, in favour of adequately-staged displays of families and groups of peoples considered savage or primitive, authentic living examples of humanity from a bygone age. Of course, this new interest, this new desire to see and feel the “other” was fostered not only by exhibition impresarios, but by industrialists and merchants who traded in the colonies, by colonial administrators and missionary societies. In turn, the process was driven forward by the strongly positive reaction of the public, who asked for more: more exoticism, more colonial products, more civilising missions, more conversions, more native populations submitted to the white man’s power; ultimately, more spectacle. Despite the differences that can be observed within the catalogue of exhibitions, their success hinged to a great extent upon a single factor: the representation or display of human beings labelled as exotic or savage, which today strikes us as unsettling and distasteful. It can therefore be of little surprise that most, if not all, of the visitors to the Quai de Branly Museum exhibiton of 2012 reacted to the ethnic shows with a fundamental question: how was it possible that such repulsive shows had been organised? Although many would simply respond with two words, domination and racism, the question is certainly more complex. In order to provide an answer, the content and meanings of the three main models or varieties of the modern ethnic show –commercial ethnological exhibitions, colonial exhibitions and missionary exhibitions– will be studied. (…) The opposition that missionary societies encountered at nineteenth-century international exhibitions encouraged them to organise events of their own. The first autonomous missionary events were Protestant and possibly took place prior to 1851. In any case, this has been confirmed as the year that the Methodist Wesleyan Missionary Society organised a missionary exhibition (which took place at the same time as the International Exhibition). Small in size and very simple in structure, it was held for only two days during the month of June, although it provided the extraordinary opportunity to see and acquire shells, corals and varied ethnographic materials (including idols) from Tonga and Fiji. The exhibition’s aim was very specific: to make a profit from ticket sales and the materials exhibited and to seek general support for the missionary enterprise.Whether or not they were directly influenced by the international event of 1851, the modest British missionary exhibitions of the mid-nineteenth century began to evolve rapidly from the 1870s, reaching truly spectacular proportions in the first third of the twentieth century. This enormous success was due to a particular set of circumstances which were not true for the Catholic sphere. Firstly, the exhibits were a fantastic source of propaganda, and furthermore, they generated a direct and immediate cash income. This is significant considering that Protestant church societies and committees neither depended upon, nor were linked to (at least not directly or officially) civil administration and almost all revenue came from the personal contributions of the faithful. Secondly, because Protestants organised their own events, there was no reason for them to participate in the official colonial exhibitions, with which the Catholic missions became repeatedly involved once the old prejudices of government had fallen away by the later years of the nineteenth century. In this way, evangelical communities were able to maintain their independence from the imperial enterprise, yet in a manner that did not preclude them from collaborating with it whenever it was in their interests to do so.However, whether Catholic or Protestant, the main characteristic of the missionary exhibitions in the timeframe of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, was their ethnological intent. The ethnographic objects of converted peoples (and of those who had yet to be converted) were noteworthy for their exoticism and rarity, and became a true magnet for audiences. They were also supposedly irrefutable proof of the “backward” and even “depraved” nature of such peoples, who had to be liberated by the redemptive missions which all Christians were expected to support spiritually and financially. But as tastes changed and the public began to lose interest, the exhibitions started to grow in size and complexity, and increasingly began to feature new attractions, such as dioramas and sculptures of native groups. Finally, the most sophisticated of them began to include the natives themselves as part of the show. It must be said that, but for rare exceptions, these were not exhibitions in the style of the famous German Völkerschauen or British ethnological exhibitions, but mere performances; in fact, the “guests” had already been baptized, were Christians, and allegedly willing to collaborate with their benefactors.Whilst the Protestant churches (British and North American alike) produced representations of indigenous peoples with the greatest frequency and intensity, it was (as far as we know) the (Italian) Catholic Church that had the dubious honour of being the first to display natives at a missionary exhibition, and did so in a clearly savagist and rudimentary fashion, which could even be described as brutal. This occurred in the religious section of the Italian-American Exhibition of Genoa in 1892. As a shocking addition to the usual ethnographic and missionary collections, seven natives were exhibited in front of the audience: four Fuegians and three Mapuches of both sexes (children, young and fully-grown adults) brought from America by missionaries. The Fuegians, who were dressed only in skins and armed with bows and arrows, spent their time inside a hut made from branches which had been built in the garden of the pavilion housing the missionary exhibition. The Mapuches were two young girls and a man; the three of them lived inside another hut, where they made handicrafts under the watchful eye of their keepers.The exhibition appears to have been a great success, but it must have been evident that the model was too simple in concept, and inhumanitarian in its approach to the indigenous people present. In fact, whilst subsequent exhibitions also featured a native presence (always Christianised) at the invitation of the clergy, the Catholic Church never again fell into such a rough presentation and representation of the obsolete and savage way of life of its converted. To provide an illustration of those times, now happily overcome by the missionary enterprise, Catholic congregations resorted to dioramas and sculptures, some of which were of superb technical and artistic quality.Although the Catholic Church may have organised the first live missionary exhibition, it should not be forgotten that they joined the exhibitional sphere much later than the evangelical churches. Also, a considerable number of their displays were associated with colonial events, something that the Protestant churches avoided. (…) Whilst it was the reformed churches that most readily incorporated native participation, they seemed to do so in a more sensitive and less brutalised manner than the Genoese Catholic Exhibition of 1892. (…) The exhibition model at these early-twentieth century Protestant events was very similar to the colonial model. Native villages were reconstructed and ethnographic collections were presented, alongside examples of local flora and fauna, and of course, an abundance of information about missionary work, in which its evangelising, educational, medical and welfare aspects were presented. Some of these were equally as attractive to the audience (irrespective of their religious beliefs) as contemporary colonial or commercial exhibitions. However, it may be noted that the participation of Christianised natives took a radically different form from those of the colonial and commercial world. Those who were most capable and had a good command of English served as guides in the sections corresponding to their places of origin, a task that they tended to carry out in traditional clothing. More frequently these new Christians assumed roles with less responsibility, such as the manufacture of handicrafts, the sale of exotic objects or the recreation of certain aspects of their previous way of life. The organisers justified their presence by claiming that they were merely actors, representing their now-forgotten savage way of life. This may very well have been the case. At the Protestant exhibitions of the 1920s and 1930s, the presence of indigens became progressively less common until it eventually disappeared. This notwithstanding, the organisers came to benefit from a living resource which complemented displays of ethnographic materials whilst being more attractive to the audience than the usual dioramas. This was a theatrical representation of the native way of life (combined with scenes of missionary interaction) by white volunteers (both men and women) who were duly made up and in some cases appeared alongside real natives. Some of these performances were short, but others consisted of several acts and featured dozens of characters on stage. Regardless of their form, these spectacles were inherent to almost any British and North American exhibition, although much less frequent in continental Europe.Since the 1960s, the Christian missionary exhibition (both Protestant and Catholic) has been conducted along very different lines from those which have been discussed here. All direct or indirect associations with colonialism have been definitively given up; it has broken with racial or ethnological interpretations of converted peoples, and strongly defends its reputed autonomy from any political groups or interests, without forgetting that the essence of evangelisation is to maximize the visibility of its educational and charitable work among the most disadvantaged. (…)The three most important categories of modern ethnic show –commercial ethnological exhibitions, colonial exhibitions and missionary exhibitions– have been examined. All three resorted, to varying degrees, to the exhibition of exotic human beings in order to capture the attention of their audience, and, ultimately, to achieve certain goals: be they success in business and personal enrichment, social, political or financial backing for the colonial enterprise, or support for missionary work. Whilst on occasion they coincided at the same point in time and within the same context of representation, the uniqueness of each form of exhibition has been emphasised. However, this does not mean that they are completely separate phenomena, or that their representation of exotic “otherness” is homogeneous.Missionary exhibitions displayed perhaps the most singular traits due to their spiritual vision. However, it is clear that many made a determined effort to produce direct, visual and emotional spectacles and some, in so doing, resorted to representations of natives which were very similar to those of colonial exhibitions. Can we speak then, of a convergence of designs and interests? I honestly do not think so. At many colonial exhibitions, organisers showed a clear intention to portray natives as fearsome, savage individuals (sometimes even describing them as cannibals) who somehow needed to be subjugated. Peoples who were considered, to a lesser or greater extent, to be civilised were also displayed (as at the interwar exhibitions). However, the purpose of this was often to publicise the success of the colonial enterprise in its campaign for “the domestication of the savage”, rather than to present a message of humanitarianism or universal fraternity. Missionary exhibitions provided information and material examples of the former way of life of the converted, in which natives demonstrated that they had abandoned their savage condition and participated in the exhibition for the greater glory of the evangelising mission. Moreover, they also became living evidence that something much more transcendent than any civilising process was taking place: that once they had been baptised, anyone, no matter how wild they had once been, could become part of the same universal Christian family.It is certainly true that the shows that the audiences enjoyed at all of these exhibitions (whether missionary, colonial or even commercial) were very similar. Yet in the case of the former, the act of exhibition took place in a significantly more humanitarian context than in the others. And while it is evident that indigenous cultures and peoples were clearly manipulated in their representation at missionary exhibitions, this did not mean that the exhibited native was merely a passive element in the game. And there is something more. The dominating and spectacular qualities present in almost all missionary exhibitions should not let us forget one last factor which was essential to their conception, their development and even their longevity: Christian faith. Without Christian faith there would have been no missionary exhibitions, and had anything similar been organised, it would not have had the same meaning. It was essential that authentic Christian faith existed within the ecclesiastical hierarchy and within those responsible for congregations, missionary societies and committees. But the faith that really made the exhibitions possible was the faith of the missionaries, of others who were involved in their implementation and, of course, of those who visited. Although it was never recognised as such, this was perhaps an uncritical faith, complacent in its acceptance of the ways in which human diversity was represented and with ethical values that occasionally came close to the limits of Christian morality. But it was a faith nonetheless, a faith which intensified and grew with each exhibition, which surely fuelled both Christian religiosity (Catholic and Protestant alike) and at least several years of missionary enterprise, years crucial for the imperialist expansionism of the West. It is an objective fact that the display of human beings at commercial and colonial shows was always much more explicit and degrading than at any missionary exhibition. To state what has just been proposed more bluntly: missionary exhibitions were not “human zoos”. However, it is less clear whether the remaining categories: are commercial and colonial exhibitions worthy of this assertion (human zoos), or were they polymorphic ethnic shows of a much greater complexity?The principal analytical obstacle to the use of the term “human zoo” is that it makes an immediate and direct association between all of these acts and contexts and the idea of a nineteenth-century zoo. The images of caged animals, growling and howling, may cause admiration, but also disgust; they may sometimes inspire tenderness, but are mainly something to be avoided and feared due to their savage and bestial condition. This was definitely the case for the organisers of the scientific and editorial project cited at the beginning of this article, so it can be no surprise that Carl Hagenbeck’s joint exhibitions of exotic animals and peoples were chosen as the frame of reference for human zoos. Although the authors state in the first edition that “the human zoo is not the exhibition of savagery but its construction” [“le zoo humain n’est pas l’exhibition de la sauvagerie, mais la construction de celle-ci”], the problem, as Blanckaert (2002) points out, is that this alleged construction or exhibitional structure was not present at most of the exhibitions under scrutiny, nor (and this is an added of mine) at those shown at the Exhibitions. Indeed, the expression “human zoo” establishes a model which does not fit with the meagre number of exhibitions of exotic individuals from the sixteenth, seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, nor with that of Saartjie Baartmann (the Hottentot Venus) of the early nineteenth century, much less with the freak shows of the twentieth century. Furthermore, this model can neither be compared to most of the nineteenth-century British human ethnological exhibitions, nor to most of the native villages of the colonial exhibitions, nor to the Wild West show of Buffalo Bill, let alone to the ruralist-traditionalist villages which were set up at many national and international exhibitions until the interwar period. Ultimately, their connection with many wandering “black villages” or “native villages” exhibited by impresarios at the end of the nineteenth century could also be disputed. Moreover, many of the shows organised by Hagenbeck number amongst the most professional in the exhibitional universe. The fact that they were held in zoos should not automatically imply that the circumstances in which they took place were more brutal or exploitative than those of any of the other ethnic shows.It is evident from all the shows which have been discussed, that the differential racial condition of the persons exhibited not only formed the basis of their exhibition, but may also have fostered and even founded racist reactions and attitudes held by the public. However, there are many other factors (political, economic and even aesthetic) which come into play and have barely been considered, which could be seen as encouraging admiration of the displays of bodies, gestures, skills, creations and knowledge which were seen as both exotic and seductive.In fact, the indiscriminate use of the very successful concept of “human zoo” generates two fundamental problems. Firstly it impedes our “true” knowledge of the object of study itself, that is, of the very varied ethnic shows which it intends to catalogue, given the great diversity of contexts, formats, persons in charge, objectives and materialisations that such enterprises have to offer. Secondly, the image of the zoo inevitably recreates the idea of an exhibition which is purely animalistic, where the only relationship is that which exists between exhibitor and exhibited: the complete domination of the latter (irrational beasts) by the former (rational beings). If we accept that the exhibited are treated merely as as more-or-less worthy animals, the consequences are twofold: a logical rejection of such shows past, present and future, and the visualization of the exhibited as passive victims of racism and capitalism in the West. It is therefore of no surprise that the research barely considers the role that these individuals may have played, the extent to which their participation in the show was voluntary and the interests which may have moved some of them to take part in these shows. Ultimately, no evaluation has been made of how these shows may have provided “opportunity contexts” for the exhibited, whether as commercial, colonial or missionary exhibitis. Whilst it is true that the exhibited peoples’ own voice is the hardest to record in any of these shows, greater effort could have been made in identifying and mapping them, as, when this happens, the results obtained are truly interesting. Before we conclude, it must be said that the proposed analysis does not intend to soften or justify the phenomenon of the ethnic show. Even in the least dramatic and exploitative cases it is evident that the essence of these shows was a marked inequality, in which every supposed “context of interaction” established a dichotomous relationship between black and white, North and South, colonisers and colonised, and ultimately, between dominators and dominated. My intention has been to propose a more-or-less classifying and clarifying approach to this varied world of human exhibitions, to make a basic inventory of their forms of representation and to determine which are the essential traits that define them, without losing sight of the contingent factors which they rely upon. Luis A. Sánchez-Gómez
Une théorie du complot (on parle aussi de conspirationnisme ou de complotisme) est un récit pseudo-scientifique, interprétant des faits réels comme étant le résultat de l’action d’un groupe caché, qui agirait secrètement et illégalement pour modifier le cours des événements en sa faveur, et au détriment de l’intérêt public. Incapable de faire la démonstration rigoureuse de ce qu’elle avance, la théorie du complot accuse ceux qui la remettent en cause d’être les complices de ce groupe caché. Elle contribue à semer la confusion, la désinformation, et la haine contre les individus ou groupes d’individus qu’elle stigmatise. (…) Derrière chaque actualité ayant des causes accidentelles ou naturelles (mort ou suicide d’une personnalité, crash d’avion, catastrophe naturelle, crise économique…), la théorie du complot cherche un ou des organisateurs secrets (gouvernement, communauté juive, francs-maçons…) qui auraient manipulé les événements dans l’ombre pour servir leurs intérêts : l’explication rationnelle ne suffit jamais. Et même si les événements ont une cause intentionnelle et des acteurs évidents (attentat, assassinat, révolution, guerre, coup d’État…), la théorie du complot va chercher à démontrer que cela a en réalité profité à un AUTRE groupe caché. C’est la méthode du bouc émissaire. (…) La théorie du complot voit les indices de celui-ci partout où vous ne les voyez pas, comme si les comploteurs laissaient volontairement des traces, visibles des seuls « initiés ». Messages cachés sur des paquets de cigarettes, visage du diable aperçu dans la fumée du World Trade Center, parcours de la manifestation Charlie Hebdo qui dessinerait la carte d’Israël… Tout devient prétexte à interprétation, sans preuve autre que l’imagination de celui qui croit découvrir ces symboles cachés. Comme le disait une série célèbre : « I want to believe ! » (…) La théorie du complot a le doute sélectif : elle critique systématiquement l’information émanant des autorités publiques ou scientifiques, tout en s’appuyant sur des certitudes ou des paroles « d’experts » qu’elle refuse de questionner. De même, pour expliquer un événement, elle monte en épingle des éléments secondaires en leur conférant une importance qu’ils n’ont pas, tout en écartant les éléments susceptibles de contrarier la thèse du complot. Son doute est à géométrie variable. (…) La théorie du complot tend à mélanger des faits et des spéculations sans distinguer entre les deux. Dans les « explications » qu’elle apporte aux événements, des éléments parfaitement avérés sont noués avec des éléments inexacts ou non vérifiés, invérifiables, voire carrément mensongers. Mais le fait qu’une argumentation ait des parties exactes n’a jamais suffi à la rendre dans son ensemble exacte !   (…) C’est une technique rhétorique qui vise à intimider celui qui y est confronté : il s’agit de le submerger par une série d’arguments empruntés à des champs très diversifiés de la connaissance, pour remplacer la qualité de l’argumentation par la quantité des (fausses) preuves. Histoire, géopolitique, physique, biologie… toutes les sciences sont convoquées – bien entendu, jamais de façon rigoureuse. Il s’agit de créer l’impression que, parmi tous les arguments avancés, « tout ne peut pas être faux », qu’ »il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu » (…) Incapables (et pour cause !) d’apporter la preuve définitive de ce qu’elle avance, la théorie du complot renverse la situation, en exigeant de ceux qui ne la partagent pas de prouver qu’ils ont raison. Mais comment démontrer que quelque chose qui n’existe pas… n’existe pas ? Un peu comme si on vous demandait de prouver que le Père Noël n’est pas réel. (…) A force de multiplier les procédés expliqués ci-dessus, les théories du complot peuvent être totalement incohérentes, recourant à des arguments qui ne peuvent tenir ensemble dans un même cadre logique, qui s’excluent mutuellement. Au fond, une seule chose importe : répéter, faute de pouvoir le démontrer, qu’on nous ment, qu’on nous cache quelque chose. #OnTeManipule !
Hoax[es], rumeurs, photos ou vidéos truquées… les fausses informations abondent sur internet. Parfois la désinformation va plus loin, et prend la forme de pseudo-théories à l’apparence scientifique qui vous mettent en garde : « On te manipule ! » A en croire ces « théoriciens » du complot, États, institutions et médias déploieraient des efforts systématiques pour tromper et manipuler les citoyens. Il faudrait ne croire personne… sauf ceux qui portent ces thèses complotistes ! Étrange, non ? Et si ceux qui dénoncent la manipulation étaient eux-mêmes en train de nous manipuler ? Oui, #OnTeManipule quand on invente des complots, quand on désigne des boucs émissaires, et quand on demande d’y croire, sans aucune preuve. Découvrez les bons réflexes à avoir pour garder son sens critique et prendre du recul par rapport aux informations qui circulent. On te manipule
Peintures, sculptures, affiches, cartes postales, films, photographies, moulages, dioramas, maquettes et costumes donnent un aperçu de l’étendue de ce phénomène et du succès de cette industrie du spectacle exotique qui a fasciné plus d’un milliard de visiteurs de 1800 à 1958 et a concerné près de 35 000 figurants dans le monde. À travers un vaste panorama composé de près de 600 oeuvres et de nombreuses projections de films d’archives, l’exposition montre comment ces spectacles, à la fois outil de propagande, objet scientifique et source de divertissement, ont formé le regard de l’Occident et profondément influencé la manière dont est appréhendé l’Autre depuis près de cinq siècles. L’exposition explore les frontières parfois ténues entre exotiques et monstres, science et voyeurisme, exhibition et spectacle, et questionne le visiteur sur ses propres préjugés dans le monde d’aujourd’hui. Si ces exhibitions disparaissent progressivement dans les années 30, elles auront alors accompli leur oeuvre : créer une frontière entre les exhibés et les visiteurs. Une frontière dont on peut se demander si elle existe toujours ? Musée du quai Branly
Pendant plus d’un siècle, les grandes puissances colonisatrices ont exhibé comme des bêtes sauvages des êtres humains arrachés à leur terre natale. Retracée dans ce passionnant documentaire, cette « pratique » a servi bien des intérêts. Ils se nomment Petite Capeline, Tambo, Moliko, Ota Benga, Marius Kaloïe et Jean Thiam. Fuégienne de Patagonie, Aborigène d’Australie, Kali’na de Guyane, Pygmée du Congo, Kanak de Nouvelle-Calédonie, ces six-là, comme 35 000 autres entre 1810 et 1940, ont été arrachés à leur terre lointaine pour répondre à la curiosité d’un public en mal d’exotisme, dans les grandes métropoles occidentales. Présentés comme des monstres de foire, voire comme des cannibales, exhibés dans de véritables zoos humains, ils ont été source de distraction pour plus d’un milliard et demi d’Européens et d’Américains, venus les découvrir en famille au cirque ou dans des villages indigènes reconstitués, lors des grandes expositions universelles et coloniales. S’appuyant sur de riches archives (photos, films, journaux…) ainsi que sur le témoignage inédit des descendants de plusieurs de ces exhibés involontaires, Pascal Blanchard et Bruno Victor-Pujebet restituent le phénomène des exhibitions ethnographiques dans leur contexte historique, de l’émergence à l’essor des grands empires coloniaux. Ponctué d’éclairages de spécialistes et d’universitaires, parmi lesquels l’anthropologue Gilles Boëtsch (CNRS, Dakar) et les historiens Benjamin Stora, Sandrine Lemaire et Fanny Robles, leur passionnant récit permet d’appréhender la façon dont nos sociétés se sont construites en fabriquant, lors de grandes fêtes populaires, une représentation stéréotypée du « sauvage ». Et comment, succédant au racisme scientifique des débuts, a pu s’instituer un racisme populaire légitimant la domination des grandes puissances sur les autres peuples du monde. Arte
On assiste au passage progressif d’un racisme scientifique à un racisme populaire, un passage qui n’est ni lié à la littérature ni au cinéma, puisque celui-ci n’existe pas encore, mais à la culture populaire, avec des spectateurs qu vont au zoo pour se divertir, sans le sentiment d’être idéologisés, manipulés. Pascal Blanchard
On payait pour voir des êtres hors norme, le frisson de la dangerosité faisait partie du spectacle. (… ) Imaginez ici des pirogues, un décorum de village lacustre wolof. Tout était fait pour donner au public l’illusion de voir le sauvage dans son biotope. C’est d’ailleurs dans ce décor factice que les frères Lumière tourneront leur douzième film, Baignade de nègres, comme s’ils étaient en Afrique… Pour le visiteur, cette représentation caricaturale du monde et de l’autre était perçue comme la réalité. (…) Ces articles et ces photos contribuent alors à la propagation de clichés et d’idées reçues sur le “sauvage”. Autant de représentations qui légitiment l’ordre colonial, popularisent la théorie et la hiérarchie des races, le concept de peuples “inférieurs” qu’il convient de faire entrer dans la lumière de la civilisation. (…) Ici, vous aviez la grande esplanade des exhibitions humaines. Celle-là même où avaient été placés les Fuégiens de Patagonie en 1881. Sur les photos que nous avons pu retrouver, on voit qu’ils sont installés sur une planche, en hauteur, sans doute à cause du froid et de l’humidité. Ils étaient arrivés en plein mois d’octobre et n’étaient quasiment pas vêtus. Beaucoup avaient attrapé des maladies pulmonaires. (…) Ils étaient enterrés sur place, dans le cimetière du zoo, au même rang que les animaux. Dans certains cas, les corps étaient envoyés à l’Institut médico-légal ou à la Société d’anthropologie de Paris, où le public payait pour assister à leur dissection. (…) Même pour les spécialistes, ce pan de l’histoire coloniale était considéré com­me un élément secondaire. (…) Il a fallu six mois pour obtenir l’autorisation de réaliser quelques séquences à l’intérieur du jardin, et nous ne l’avons eue que parce que nous avons menacé de filmer à travers les grilles… Pascal Blanchard
Grâce à l’historien Pascal Blanchard, que j’ai rencontré lors d’un colloque, à l’époque où je jouais à Barcelone. Après notre rencontre, il m’a envoyé un livre sur le sujet, et c’est comme ça que j’ai appris à connaître un peu mieux cette histoire des « zoos humains ». Une histoire extrêmement violente, dont les enjeux m’intéressent car elle permet de comprendre d’où vient le racisme, de saisir qu’il est lié à un conditionnement historique. (…) Les zoos humains sont le reflet d’un rapport de domination, celui de l’Occident sur le reste du monde. La domination de celui qui détient le pouvoir économique et militaire, et qui l’utilise pour que d’autres personnes, dominées, venues d’Asie, d’Océanie, d’Afrique, soient montrées comme des animaux dans des espaces clos, au nom notamment de la couleur de leur peau. (…) Ces exhibitions ont attiré des millions de spectateurs et ont ancré dans leur tête l’idée d’une hiérarchie entre les personnes, entre les prétendues « races » – la race blanche étant considérée comme supérieure. Les mécanismes de domination qui existent dans nos sociétés se sont construits petit à petit. La plupart des gens sont devenus racistes sans le savoir, ils ont été éduqués dans ce sens-là. Après avoir visité ces zoos humains, les populations occidentales étaient confortées dans l’idée qu’elles étaient supérieures, qu’elles incarnaient la « civilisation » face à des «  sauvages ». Lorsque je préparais l’exposition au Quai Branly, en 2011, je me suis rendu à Hambourg. Là-bas, sur le portail d’entrée du zoo, une sculpture représente des animaux et des hommes, mis au même niveau. C’est d’une violence totale. Mais cela permet aussi de comprendre pourquoi certains sont aujourd’hui encore dans le rejet de l’autre. Il reste des séquelles de ce passé, les barrières existent toujours dans nos sociétés. Comment ne pas penser à ces enclos quand on voit les murs qui se construisent autour de l’Europe ou aux Etats-Unis ? Les zoos humains permettent de nous éclairer sur ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui. (…) Mais ce n’est pas seulement l’évocation des zoos humains qui pose problème, c’est le passé en général. Ce passé lié à de la violence, au fait de s’accaparer des biens d’autrui. Mais, ce passé-là, nous devons nous l’approprier car il raconte l’histoire du monde actuel. Le regarder en face doit nous permettre de nous éclairer sur ce que nous sommes en train de vivre, pour essayer de choisir un futur différent. Dans nos sociétés, la chose la plus importante est-elle le profit, le fait de s’octroyer le bien des autres pour s’enrichir ? C’est important de se poser ces questions-là aujourd’hui. (…) Ces manifestations racistes dont vous parlez viennent directement des zoos humains. De cette histoire. Les gens ont été éduqués ainsi. Les cultures dans lesquelles il y a eu des zoos humains gardent ce complexe de supériorité, conscient ou inconscient, sur les autres cultures. Pour progresser, il faut savoir faire preuve d’autocritique. Dans le sport de haut niveau, c’est essentiel. Cela vaut aussi pour la société. Mais nos sociétés, françaises, européennes, portent très peu de critiques sur elles-mêmes. Très souvent, les gens ne veulent pas critiquer leur propre culture. Il n’y a pas si longtemps encore, l’Europe était persuadée d’être le phare de l’univers. Les zoos humains sont liés à l’histoire coloniale. Les gens ont souvent tendance à croire qu’après la colonisation il y a eu l’égalité. Mais non, il y a une culture de la domination qui perdure. Notre système économique ne fait-il pas en sorte qu’une minorité, qui vit bien, exploite une majorité, qui vit mal ? (…) Avant toute chose, je pense qu’il faut connaître notre passé pour mieux comprendre ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui. Pourquoi certaines personnes ne veulent-elles pas connaître cette histoire, de quoi ont-elles peur ? Le plus beau cadeau que l’on puisse faire à une société, c’est de lui apprendre à connaître son histoire. Il n’y a que sur des bases solides que l’on peut construire un présent et un futur solides. Lilian Thuram
Entre 1877 et 1937, des millions de Parisiens se bousculèrent ici, à la lisière du bois de Boulogne, pour assister au spectacle exotique de Nubiens, Sénégalais, Kali’nas, Fuégiens, Lapons exposés devant le public parés de leurs attributs « authentiques » (lances, peaux de bêtes, pirogues, masques, bijoux…). On se pressait pour voir les « sauvages », des hommes, des femmes et des enfants souvent parqués derrière des grillages ou des barreaux, comme les animaux qui faisaient jusqu’alors la réputation du Jardin zoologique d’acclimatation. D’étranges étrangers, supposés non civilisés et potentiellement menaçants, à l’image de ces Kanaks présentés comme des cannibales et exhibés… dans la fosse aux ours. (…) Lorsque le directeur du Jardin d’acclimatation, le naturaliste Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, organise les tout premiers « spectacles ethnologiques » en 1877 avec des Nubiens et des Esquimaux, il est en quête de nouvelles attractions pour remettre à flot son établissement. Quelques mois plus tôt, à Hambourg, un certain Carl Hagenbeck, marchand d’animaux sauvages, a connu un succès phénoménal en présentant une troupe de Lapons. Au bois de Boulogne, le premier ethnic show fait courir les foules. La fréquentation du jardin double, pour atteindre un million de visiteurs en un an. Certains dimanches, plus de soixante-dix mille personnes se pressent dans les allées. C’est le début d’une mode qui va gagner le monde entier, d’expositions coloniales en expositions universelles. Trente-cinq mille individus seront ainsi exhibés, attirant près d’un milliard et demi de curieux de l’Allemagne aux Etats-Unis, de la Grande-Bretagne au Japon. Pour le promeneur de 2018, impossible de deviner ce passé sinistre derrière les contours ripolinés du parc d’attractions. Les bâtiments de l’époque ont été démolis. Quant aux villages exotiques qui servaient de cadre aux « indigènes », ils étaient éphémères, un ailleurs succédant à un autre. Mais Pascal Blanchard, qui a compulsé des kilos d’images d’archives, n’a aucun mal à en faire ressurgir le souvenir face à ce paisible plan d’eau où patientent des barques (…) Une réalité dont on pouvait conserver le souvenir en s’offrant, après le show, ses produits dérivés, cartes postales, gravures ou coquillages samoans signés de la main des indigènes. Les exhibitions coloniales font le bonheur des anthropologues, qui se bousculent chaque matin avant l’arrivée du public et payent pour pouvoir observer et examiner les « spécimens », publiant ensuite des articles dans les revues les plus sérieuses. S’inspirant des clichés anthropométriques de la police, le photographe Roland Bonaparte constitue, lui, un catalogue de plusieurs milliers d’images « ethnographiques », dans lequel puiseront des générations de scientifiques. (…) Nombre d’exhibés sont ainsi morts dans les zoos humains. On estime entre trente-deux et trente-quatre le nombre de ceux qui auraient péri au Jardin d’acclimatation. » L’acte de décès était déposé à la mairie de Neuilly, mais les morts n’avaient le plus souvent pas de nom. C’est à la lettre « F » comme Fuégienne que les chercheurs ont retrouvé, sur les registres, la trace d’une fillette de 2 ans morte peu après son arrivée à Paris. Une des pièces du puzzle qu’il a fallu patiemment assembler pour reconstituer la mémoire des zoos humains, longtemps ignorée de tous. (…) Aujourd’hui encore, le sujet reste sensible, y compris pour la direction du Jardin d’acclimatation (géré par le groupe LVMH), comme l’a constaté Pascal Blanchard lors du tournage de son documentaire (…) En 2013, au terme d’un combat de cinq ans, les historiens, soutenus par Didier Daeninckx, Lilian Thuram et des élus du Conseil de Paris, ont obtenu que soit posée au Jardin d’acclimatation une plaque commémorative faisant état de ce qu’avaient été les « zoos humains », « symboles d’une autre époque où l’autre avait été regardé comme un “animal” en Occident ». Mais le visiteur doit avoir l’œil bien ouvert pour remarquer la discrète inscription un peu cachée dans les herbes, à l’extérieur de l’enceinte du jardin… Comme le signe d’un passé refoulé qui peine encore à atteindre la lumière. Télérama
Après l’antisémitismeArte invente le conspirationnisme pour tous !

« Grandes puissances colonisatrices »,  « exhibés comme des bêtes sauvages »,  « êtres humains arrachés à leur terre natale », « servi bien des intérêts », « curiosité d’un public en mal d’exotisme », « présentés comme des monstres de foire, voire comme des cannibales, « véritables zoos humains », « théâtre de cruauté », « exhibés involontaires », « représentation stéréotypée du ‘sauvage' », « racisme scientifique », « racisme populaire légitimant la domination des grandes puissances sur les autres peuples du monde », « voyages dans wagons à bestiaux », « histoire inventée de toutes pièces » et « mise en scène pour promouvoir la hiérarchisation des races et justifier la colonisation du monde », « page sombre de notre histoire », « séquelles toujours vivaces » …

Au lendemain, après l’exposition du Quai Branly de 2011, de la diffusion d’un nouveau documentaire sur les « zoos humains » …

Où, à grands coups d’anachronismes et de raccourcis entre le narrateur de couleur de rigueur (le joueur de football guadeloupéen Lilian Thuram sautant allégrement des « zoos humains » aux cris de singe des hooligans des stades de football ou aux actuelles barrières de sécurité contre l’immigration llégale « Comment ne pas penser à ces enclos quand on voit les murs qui se construisent autour de l’Europe ou aux Etats-Unis ? »), la musique angoissante et les appels incessants à l’indignation, l’on nous déploie tout l’arsenal juridico-victimaire de l’histoire à la sauce tribunal de l’histoire …

Où faisant fi de toutes causes accidentelles ou naturelles (maladies, mort ou suicide), plus aucun fait ne peut être que le « résultat de l’action d’un groupe caché » au détriment de l’intérêt de populations qui ne peuvent autres que victimes …

Où la mise en épingle de certains éléments (colonisation, suprémacisme blanc) éclipse systématiquement tout élément susceptible de contrarier la thèse présentée (comme, au-delà par exemple de l’incohérence d’hommes âpres au gain censés mettre inconsidérément en danger à l’instar des esclavagistes dont l’on tient tant à les rapprocher la vie d’exhibés ramenés à grand frais d’Afrique ou de Nouvelle-Calédonie, les « exhibitions » non commerciales à fins humanitaires comme par exemple celles des sociétés missionnaires chrétiennes, l’implication ou la volonté, sans compter ceux qui décidèrent de rester en Europe et y compris à s’y marier avec des Européennes, de membres du groupe « victime » eux-mêmes comme le riche recruteur sénégalais Jean Thiam ou la danseuse nue au tutu de bananes du Bal nègre et future tenancière du « zoo humain » de Milandes présentant à la planète entière sa tribu arc en ciel recomposée d’enfants de toutes les races et ethnies du monde devient comme par enchantement « déconstructrice » de la facticité du mythe du sauvage) …

Où, écartant toute possibilité de véritable curiosité autre que morbide ou raciste (quel racisme attribuer à l’exhibition préalable et même parallèle des « monstres » blancs des « freak shows », dont le cas certes singulier du Dr. autoproclamé Couney sauvant ainsi des milliers de bébés incubés ? ou qui des actuels parcs ethnographiques ou de tourisme industriel où des artisans blancs dument costumés rejouent pour les visiteurs les gestes de leurs aïeux supposés ?), l’on impute invariablement les pires motivations aux méchants colons ou public voués de ce fait à l’exécration publique …

Comment ne pas reconnaitre, dans cette énième tentative d’absolution du péché originel de collusion de l’ethnologie avec l’ordre colonial, nombre des ingrédients des théories du complot que dénonce le site gouvernemental « #On te manipule »

Sauf que bien sûr on n’est plus cette fois dans la vulgaire théorie du complot ….

Mais – c’est pour une bonne cause (« Plus jamais ça ! ») – la théorie du complot vertueuse ?

Dans ce jardin, il y avait un “zoo humain”
Virginie Félix
Télérama
29/09/2018

Au Jardin d’acclimatation, de 1877 à 1937, on a parqué et exhibé des êtres humains venus d’ailleurs. L’historien Pascal Blanchard cosigne pour Arte un documentaire remarquable sur ces “zoos humains”, théâtres de cruauté. Et revient sur les lieux où le racisme s’exprimait sans vergogne. A voir samedi 29 septembre, 20h50.

Neuilly ronronne sous le soleil de septembre. En ce mardi de fin d’été, on pénètre dans les allées du Jardin d’acclimatation comme dans une parenthèse enchantée. Des haut-parleurs crachotent une mélodie guillerette, les brumisateurs nimbent l’air d’un brouillard vaporeux et quelques bambins tournicotent devant les manèges. Mais, au milieu des voix d’enfants, celle de l’historien Pascal Blanchard vient jeter une ombre sur ce décor insouciant. Pour le chercheur, qui nous guide ce matin-là parmi les carrousels et les autos tamponneuses, la féerie du parc d’attractions cache une autre histoire, plus ancienne, aussi sombre que méconnue. Celle des zoos humains, ces « exhibitions ethnographiques » qui attirèrent les foules sur les pelouses du Jardin d’acclimatation à l’orée du XXe siècle, et auxquels il vient de consacrer, avec Bruno Victor-Pujebet, un magistral documentaire pour Arte.

On se pressait pour voir les “sauvages” 

Entre 1877 et 1937, des millions de Parisiens se bousculèrent ici, à la lisière du bois de Boulogne, pour assister au spectacle exotique de Nubiens, Sénégalais, Kali’nas, Fuégiens, Lapons exposés devant le public parés de leurs attributs « authentiques » (lances, peaux de bêtes, pirogues, masques, bijoux…). On se pressait pour voir les « sauvages », des hommes, des femmes et des enfants souvent parqués derrière des grillages ou des barreaux, comme les animaux qui faisaient jusqu’alors la réputation du Jardin zoologique d’acclimatation. D’étranges étrangers, supposés non civilisés et potentiellement menaçants, à l’image de ces Kanaks présentés comme des cannibales et exhibés… dans la fosse aux ours. « On payait pour voir des êtres hors norme, le frisson de la dangerosité faisait partie du spectacle », explique l’historien.

Une mode qui va gagner le monde entier

Lorsque le directeur du Jardin d’acclimatation, le naturaliste Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, organise les tout premiers « spectacles ethnologiques » en 1877 avec des Nubiens et des Esquimaux, il est en quête de nouvelles attractions pour remettre à flot son établissement. Quelques mois plus tôt, à Hambourg, un certain Carl Hagenbeck, marchand d’animaux sauvages, a connu un succès phénoménal en présentant une troupe de Lapons. Au bois de Boulogne, le premier ethnic show fait courir les foules. La fréquentation du jardin double, pour atteindre un million de visiteurs en un an. Certains dimanches, plus de soixante-dix mille personnes se pressent dans les allées. C’est le début d’une mode qui va gagner le monde entier, d’expositions coloniales en expositions universelles. Trente-cinq mille individus seront ainsi exhibés, attirant près d’un milliard et demi de curieux de l’Allemagne aux Etats-Unis, de la Grande-Bretagne au Japon.

L’illusion de voir l’“indigène” dans son biotope

Pour le promeneur de 2018, impossible de deviner ce passé sinistre derrière les contours ripolinés du parc d’attractions. Les bâtiments de l’époque ont été démolis. Quant aux villages exotiques qui servaient de cadre aux « indigènes », ils étaient éphémères, un ailleurs succédant à un autre. Mais Pascal Blanchard, qui a compulsé des kilos d’images d’archives, n’a aucun mal à en faire ressurgir le souvenir face à ce paisible plan d’eau où patientent des barques : « Imaginez ici des pirogues, un décorum de village lacustre wolof. Tout était fait pour donner au public l’illusion de voir le sauvage dans son biotope. C’est d’ailleurs dans ce décor factice que les frères Lumière tourneront leur douzième film, Baignade de nègres, comme s’ils étaient en Afrique… Pour le visiteur, cette représentation caricaturale du monde et de l’autre était perçue comme la réalité. » Une réalité dont on pouvait conserver le souvenir en s’offrant, après le show, ses produits dérivés, cartes postales, gravures ou coquillages samoans signés de la main des indigènes.

La légitimation de l’ordre colonial 

Les exhibitions coloniales font le bonheur des anthropologues, qui se bousculent chaque matin avant l’arrivée du public et payent pour pouvoir observer et examiner les « spécimens », publiant ensuite des articles dans les revues les plus sérieuses. S’inspirant des clichés anthropométriques de la police, le photographe Roland Bonaparte constitue, lui, un catalogue de plusieurs milliers d’images « ethnographiques », dans lequel puiseront des générations de scientifiques. « Ces articles et ces photos contribuent alors à la propagation de clichés et d’idées reçues sur le “sauvage”. Autant de représentations qui légitiment l’ordre colonial, popularisent la théorie et la hiérarchie des races, le concept de peuples “inférieurs” qu’il convient de faire entrer dans la lumière de la civilisation. »

Au pied de la Fondation Vuitton, Pascal Blanchard désigne une large pelouse. « Ici, vous aviez la grande esplanade des exhibitions humaines. Celle-là même où avaient été placés les Fuégiens de Patagonie en 1881. Sur les photos que nous avons pu retrouver, on voit qu’ils sont installés sur une planche, en hauteur, sans doute à cause du froid et de l’humidité. Ils étaient arrivés en plein mois d’octobre et n’étaient quasiment pas vêtus. Beaucoup avaient attrapé des maladies pulmonaires. »

Les morts, enterrés sur place, n’avaient le plus souvent pas de nom

Nombre d’exhibés sont ainsi morts dans les zoos humains. On estime entre trente-deux et trente-quatre le nombre de ceux qui auraient péri au Jardin d’acclimatation. « Ils étaient enterrés sur place, dans le cimetière du zoo, au même rang que les animaux. Dans certains cas, les corps étaient envoyés à l’Institut médico-légal ou à la Société d’anthropologie de Paris, où le public payait pour assister à leur dissection. » L’acte de décès était déposé à la mairie de Neuilly, mais les morts n’avaient le plus souvent pas de nom. C’est à la lettre « F » comme Fuégienne que les chercheurs ont retrouvé, sur les registres, la trace d’une fillette de 2 ans morte peu après son arrivée à Paris. Une des pièces du puzzle qu’il a fallu patiemment assembler pour reconstituer la mémoire des zoos humains, longtemps ignorée de tous. « Même pour les spécialistes, ce pan de l’histoire coloniale était considéré com­me un élément secondaire. » Aujourd’hui encore, le sujet reste sensible, y compris pour la direction du Jardin d’acclimatation (géré par le groupe LVMH), comme l’a constaté Pascal Blanchard lors du tournage de son documentaire : « Il a fallu six mois pour obtenir l’autorisation de réaliser quelques séquences à l’intérieur du jardin, et nous ne l’avons eue que parce que nous avons menacé de filmer à travers les grilles… »

En 2013, au terme d’un combat de cinq ans, les historiens, soutenus par Didier Daeninckx, Lilian Thuram et des élus du Conseil de Paris, ont obtenu que soit posée au Jardin d’acclimatation une plaque commémorative faisant état de ce qu’avaient été les « zoos humains », « symboles d’une autre époque où l’autre avait été regardé comme un “animal” en Occident ». Mais le visiteur doit avoir l’œil bien ouvert pour remarquer la discrète inscription un peu cachée dans les herbes, à l’extérieur de l’enceinte du jardin… Comme le signe d’un passé refoulé qui peine encore à atteindre la lumière.


on aime passionnément Sauvages, au coeur des zoos humains, samedi 29 septembre, 20h50, Arte.

Voir aussi:

Lilian Thuram : “Les zoos humains permettent de comprendre d’où vient le racisme »
Virginie Félix
Télérama
29/09/2018

Engagé dans la lutte contre le racisme, l’ancien footballeur a été le commissaire d’une exposition consacrée aux zoos humains au musée du Quai Branly. Il évoque cette page sombre de notre histoire, et ses séquelles toujours vivaces, à l’occasion d’un documentaire coup de poing diffusé sur Arte.

Depuis qu’il a raccroché les crampons, l’ex-défenseur de l’équipe de France Lilian Thuram joue les attaquants sur le terrain de la lutte contre le racisme. En 2011, il fut le commissaire d’une exposition consacrée aux « zoos humains » organisée au musée du Quai Branly, mettant en lumière la violence de ces exhibitions de « sauvages » qui firent courir les foules dans le monde entier à la fin du XIXe et au début du XXe siècle. Alors qu’Arte consacre cette semaine un documentaire coup de poing à cette page d’histoire méconnue (Sauvages, au cœur des zoos humains), le footballeur devenu « passeur » explique pourquoi il est essentiel de mettre en lumière un passé qui dérange pour mieux en tirer les leçons.

Comment avez-vous découvert l’histoire des « zoos humains » ?
Grâce à l’historien Pascal Blanchard, que j’ai rencontré lors d’un colloque, à l’époque où je jouais à Barcelone. Après notre rencontre, il m’a envoyé un livre sur le sujet, et c’est comme ça que j’ai appris à connaître un peu mieux cette histoire des « zoos humains ». Une histoire extrêmement violente, dont les enjeux m’intéressent car elle permet de comprendre d’où vient le racisme, de saisir qu’il est lié à un conditionnement historique.

Qu’est-ce qui peut expliquer que certaines personnes se retrouvent ainsi exhibées dans des zoos, et que d’autres soient des visiteurs, de l’autre côté des barrières ?
Les zoos humains sont le reflet d’un rapport de domination, celui de l’Occident sur le reste du monde. La domination de celui qui détient le pouvoir économique et militaire, et qui l’utilise pour que d’autres personnes, dominées, venues d’Asie, d’Océanie, d’Afrique, soient montrées comme des animaux dans des espaces clos, au nom notamment de la couleur de leur peau.

“Les zoos humains permettent de nous éclairer sur ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui.”

Comment les zoos humains ont-ils participé à la fabrication d’un racisme populaire ?
Ces exhibitions ont attiré des millions de spectateurs et ont ancré dans leur tête l’idée d’une hiérarchie entre les personnes, entre les prétendues « races » – la race blanche étant considérée comme supérieure. Les mécanismes de domination qui existent dans nos sociétés se sont construits petit à petit. La plupart des gens sont devenus racistes sans le savoir, ils ont été éduqués dans ce sens-là. Après avoir visité ces zoos humains, les populations occidentales étaient confortées dans l’idée qu’elles étaient supérieures, qu’elles incarnaient la « civilisation » face à des «  sauvages ».

Lorsque je préparais l’exposition au Quai Branly, en 2011, je me suis rendu à Hambourg. Là-bas, sur le portail d’entrée du zoo, une sculpture représente des animaux et des hommes, mis au même niveau. C’est d’une violence totale. Mais cela permet aussi de comprendre pourquoi certains sont aujourd’hui encore dans le rejet de l’autre. Il reste des séquelles de ce passé, les barrières existent toujours dans nos sociétés. Comment ne pas penser à ces enclos quand on voit les murs qui se construisent autour de l’Europe ou aux Etats-Unis ? Les zoos humains permettent de nous éclairer sur ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui.

Avez-vous le sentiment que c’est aujourd’hui un sujet tabou, difficile à aborder ?Effectivement. Mais ce n’est pas seulement l’évocation des zoos humains qui pose problème, c’est le passé en général. Ce passé lié à de la violence, au fait de s’accaparer des biens d’autrui. Mais, ce passé-là, nous devons nous l’approprier car il raconte l’histoire du monde actuel. Le regarder en face doit nous permettre de nous éclairer sur ce que nous sommes en train de vivre, pour essayer de choisir un futur différent. Dans nos sociétés, la chose la plus importante est-elle le profit, le fait de s’octroyer le bien des autres pour s’enrichir ? C’est important de se poser ces questions-là aujourd’hui.

“Les gens ne veulent pas critiquer leur propre culture. Il n’y a pas si longtemps encore, l’Europe était persuadée d’être le phare de l’univers.”

Ce racisme populaire, en tant que footballeur, vous avez pu le voir s’exprimer dans les stades, par exemple à travers ces cris de singe des hooligans  ?
Ces manifestations racistes dont vous parlez viennent directement des zoos humains. De cette histoire. Les gens ont été éduqués ainsi. Les cultures dans lesquelles il y a eu des zoos humains gardent ce complexe de supériorité, conscient ou inconscient, sur les autres cultures.

Pour progresser, il faut savoir faire preuve d’autocritique. Dans le sport de haut niveau, c’est essentiel. Cela vaut aussi pour la société. Mais nos sociétés, françaises, européennes, portent très peu de critiques sur elles-mêmes. Très souvent, les gens ne veulent pas critiquer leur propre culture. Il n’y a pas si longtemps encore, l’Europe était persuadée d’être le phare de l’univers. Les zoos humains sont liés à l’histoire coloniale.

Les gens ont souvent tendance à croire qu’après la colonisation il y a eu l’égalité. Mais non, il y a une culture de la domination qui perdure. Notre système économique ne fait-il pas en sorte qu’une minorité, qui vit bien, exploite une majorité, qui vit mal ?

Le message que vous voulez faire passer est un message de réconciliation plutôt que de culpabilisation ?
Avant toute chose, je pense qu’il faut connaître notre passé pour mieux comprendre ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui. Pourquoi certaines personnes ne veulent-elles pas connaître cette histoire, de quoi ont-elles peur ? Le plus beau cadeau que l’on puisse faire à une société, c’est de lui apprendre à connaître son histoire. Il n’y a que sur des bases solides que l’on peut construire un présent et un futur solides.


on aime passionnément Sauvages, au cœur des zoos humains, samedi 29 septembre, à 20h50, sur Arte.

Voir de plus:

Exemple à suivre La fondation Lilian Thuram. Éducation contre le racisme

Lilian Thuram

D’origine guadeloupéenne, Lilian Thuram a mené une carrière prestigieuse de footballeur de haut niveau (Champion du monde 1998, Champion d’Europe 2000), il détient le record de sélections en équipe de France masculine. Il est membre du Haut conseil à l’intégration et du collectif antiraciste « Devoirs de mémoires ».

Si la Fondation Lilian Thuram-Education contre le racisme [1][1] Cf. site internet de la Fondation : www.thuram.org existe, c’est avant tout le fruit d’une rencontre à Barcelone, lorsque j’étais footballeur professionnel. Invité chez le Consul de France, je rencontrai un publicitaire espagnol qui me demanda ce que j’aimerais faire après le football. Je lui répondis : « changer le monde ». Il sourit et me dit : « vous le pensez parce que vous êtes jeune, c’est une tâche difficile, impossible ». Un débat s’ensuivit.

Il m’interroge sur ma vision des choses. Je lui explique que, pour moi, le racisme perdure parce qu’on n’a jamais pris le temps de déconstruire son mécanisme, que c’est avant tout une invention de l’homme. Toute forme de racisme est une construction sociale. Nous portons toutes et tous des lunettes culturelles : nous ne regardons jamais l’autre de façon innocente. Nous sommes marqués par l’éducation reçue, par nos religions, l’histoire racontée dans notre propre pays. Quelques jours après, cet homme me téléphone pour me dire que je l’ai convaincu, qu’il souhaite me rencontrer pour me faire part de son expérience professionnelle et m’aider dans cette tâche. Il me convainc de créer une fondation, ce que je fais en mars 2008, en Espagne, où je réside alors.

Du « boche » à l’« arabe »

Vous et moi, nous sommes conditionnés ; aujourd’hui, notre propre imaginaire est avant tout le fruit de notre éducation – parentale, scolaire, environnementale – et, pour toute analyse, nous faisons appel à notre connaissance et à nos croyances. Pour essayer de vous expliquer l’impact des croyances collectives, je vais vous raconter deux histoires. Un jour, parlant de « Mes étoiles noires »[2][2] Lilian Thuram, « Mes étoiles noires, de Lucy à Barack… à une pharmacienne, elle me dit que ses parents normands avaient vu pour la première fois un homme noir en 1944, durant le débarquement. Elle me dit aussi que pendant toute son enfance, son adolescence et sa vie d’adulte, elle avait été conditionnée à détester les « boches », et ce n’est que par la réflexion et la compréhension de cette histoire, qu’elle avait pu comprendre que tous les Allemands n’étaient pas méchants et, surtout, que les Allemands nés après cette guerre n’étaient pas responsables de ce qui s’était passé avant eux. Une autre histoire, celle de « Papy Dédé » : il a vingt ans quand on l’envoie faire la guerre en Algérie. Il explique qu’on l’a conditionné à détester l’« arabe ». Aujourd’hui il ne se dit pas Français, il se dit Homme du monde, car, selon lui, la France lui a menti.

« Les noirs sont forts en sport »

Le conditionnement se fait par la répétition. Répétée mille fois, une bêtise, quelle qu’elle soit, devient une vérité. Les scientifiques du XIXe siècle, les politiques, les intellectuels, les sociétés du spectacle, ont prétendu qu’il y avait plusieurs races ; aujourd’hui, tous les scientifiques sont d’accord pour affirmer qu’il n’y a qu’une espèce, l’Homo sapiens. Pourtant en 2010, les enfants, conditionnés par l’imaginaire collectif, disent qu’il existe une race noire, une jaune, une blanche, une rouge. A la question : « puisque vous pensez qu’il existe plusieurs races, quelles sont les qualités de chacune ? », ils répondent que « les Noirs sont plus forts en sport ». Est-ce anodin ? Sachant que dans notre imaginaire collectif, le corps est dissocié de l’esprit, si les noirs sont plus forts en sport, ils sont aussi moins intelligents. Mais n’est-ce pas compréhensible quand vous savez que c’est à l’école, par le biais de l’esclavage, de l’apartheid et de la colonisation que 80 % de la population française a entendu parler pour la première fois des Noirs ? Ne sommes-nous pas conditionnés de façon inconsciente à voir les personnes de couleur noire comme inférieures ?

Retour à Socrate

L’antisémitisme, par exemple, est d’abord une construction intellectuelle ; on a diabolisé les personnes de religion juive, on leur a attribué des caractéristiques précises à certaines époques de l’Histoire. Un autre exemple concerne les Amérindiens : les Espagnols débarquant aux Amériques avaient en tête tous les préjugés des Européens sur les autres peuples, ils les voyaient comme inférieurs, et c’est pour cela que toutes les entreprises de colonisation et d’esclavagisme ont été présentées comme autant d’œuvres civilisatrices. On prétend civiliser des personnes qui ne le sont pas ; dès lors, dans cette non-civilisation, se retrouve la construction d’une non-humanité de l’autre.

La Fondation veut expliquer avec insistance que le racisme n’est pas un phénomène naturel, c’est un phénomène intellectuel et culturel qui peut être éradiqué en profondeur. Mais cette éradication demande une vigilance car, dans toute société, il y a des tensions identitaires. Pourtant une idée simple pourrait nous aider dans cette éducation contre le racisme : « connais-toi toi-même », selon l’injonction de Socrate. Ce qui singularise notre espèce, c’est cette capacité exceptionnelle d’apprentissage : nous sommes programmés pour apprendre, ce qui explique l’origine de la diversité culturelle et pourquoi chaque être humain peut acquérir n’importe quelle culture. Cette idée doit être absolument développée dans tout discours sur la diversité humaine.

Ils sont ce qu’on leur a appris à être

La couleur de la peau d’une personne, son apparence physique n’ont rien à voir avec la langue qu’elle parle, la religion qu’elle pratique, les valeurs et les systèmes politiques qu’elle défend, ce qu’elle aime ou déteste.

C’est cette idée, pourtant simple, qu’un certain nombre de personnes ne comprend pas ou dont elles n’ont tout simplement pas conscience. Elles sont souvent essentialistes : elles croient, plus ou moins confusément, qu’une « nature physique » est reliée substantiellement à une « nature culturelle ». Elles naturalisent la culture. Un exemple de la version la plus radicale de cette croyance a été produit par l’idéologie nazie. Les racistes naturalisent la culture, comme le misogyne naturalise la femme (sa nature fait que sa place est déterminée), comme les homophobes naturalisent l’homosexualité (on naît homosexuel). C’est donc cette connexion « culture/nature » qu’il faut déconstruire.

Ce qu’il faut expliquer aux enfants, c’est qu’ils sont des constructions sociales et culturelles, qu’ils intègrent des modes de pensée, de façon consciente comme inconsciente, qu’ils sont bourrés de traits culturels qui n’ont rien à voir avec leurs patrimoines génétiques ni avec leur apparence physique. Ils sont ce qu’on leur a appris à être. Le problème fondamental du racisme est qu’il y a trop de personnes qui n’acceptent pas cette idée… Ils n’acceptent pas ou ne comprennent pas que les humains sont construits par d’autres humains.

Heureuse diversité

Nous devons apprendre vraiment à nous connaître nous-mêmes en tant qu’espèce, car nous sommes capables d’apprendre n’importe quoi, le pire comme le meilleur. Nous sommes très sensibles au conditionnement et avons, par nature, du mal à admettre que nous en sommes victimes et à accepter d’en changer. Nous sommes tous persuadés que nous détenons la Vérité. C’est ce qui explique que nous soyons parfois intolérants.

Fort heureusement, le côté positif de notre spécificité est de pouvoir « bricoler » ce qu’on apprend de nos semblables, d’où les changements culturels. Les femmes et les hommes d’aujourd’hui n’ont rien à voir avec celles et ceux qui vivaient il y a quatre ou cinq générations ; nos ancêtres du Moyen Âge ne comprendraient rien au monde dans lequel nous vivons aujourd’hui. On voudrait nous faire croire que nous vivons une période de régression du vivre ensemble, mais heureusement c’est tout le contraire : dans l’inconscient collectif, la diversité n’a jamais été aussi présente.

Les enfants d’abord

Avant tout, j’aime aller régulièrement à la rencontre des enfants, dans les écoles principalement, pour les écouter et les interroger, m’inspirer de leurs expériences. La première grande action de la fondation a été la publication en janvier dernier de « Mes étoiles noires ». Nous avons préparé pour la mi-octobre un outil pédagogique multimédia pour les enseignants de CM1-CM2 et leurs élèves. Ce sera une proposition de contribution à l’éducation contre le racisme sous la forme de deux DVD et d’un livret. Il sera envoyé gratuitement à tous les enseignants qui en feront la demande, le moment venu. La troisième grande action est une exposition consacrée aux exhibitions, qui, entre 1880 et 1931, ont vu défiler près d’un milliard d’occidentaux devant 40 000 « indigènes » montrés dans des « zoos humains ». L’exposition aura lieu au musée du quai Branly, de fin novembre 2011 à mai 2012. Elle participera à la déconstruction du racisme dans nos imaginaires. Elle voyagera ensuite en Espagne, en Allemagne et en Suisse, puis, nous l’espérons, en Angleterre et aux Etats-Unis.

Notes

[1]

Cf. site internet de la Fondation : www.thuram.org

[2]

Lilian Thuram, « Mes étoiles noires, de Lucy à Barack Obama », Editions Philippe Rey, 2010.

[3]

Avec le soutien de la banque CASDEN, de la MGEN (Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale) et la Fondation du FC Barcelone.

Voir encore:

Human Zoos or Ethnic Shows? Essence and contingency in Living Ethnological Exhibitons
Luis A. Sánchez-Gómez
Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
Culture & History Digital Journal
Dec. 22, 2013

INTRODUCTION

Between the 29th of November 2011 and the 3rd of June 2012, the Quai de Branly Museum in Paris displayed an extraordinary exhibition, with the eye-catching title Exhibitions. L’invention du sauvage, which had a considerable social and media impact. Its “scientific curators” were the historian Pascal Blanchard and the museum’s curator Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, with Guadalupe-born former footballer Lilian Thuram acting as “commissioner general”. A popular sportsman, Thuram is also known in France for his staunch social and political commitment. The exhibition was the culmination (although probably not the end point) of a successful project which had started in Marseille in 2001 with the conference entitled Mémoire colonial: zoos humains? Corps Exotiques, corps enfermés, corps mesurés. Over time, successive publications of the papers presented at that first meeting have given rise to a genuine publishing saga, thus far including three French editions (Bancel et al., 2002, 2004; Blanchard et al., 2011), one in Italian (Lemaire et al., 2003), one in English (Blanchard et al., 2008) and another in German (Blanchard et al., 2012). This remarkable repertoire is completed by the impressive catalogue of the exhibition (Blanchard; Boëtsch y Snoep, 2011). All of the book titles (with the exception of the catalogue) make reference to “human zoos” as their object of study, although in none of them are the words followed by a question mark, as was the case at the Marseille conference. This would seem to define “human zoos” as a well-documented phenomenon, the essence of which has been well-established. Most significantly, despite reiterating the concept, neither the catalogue of the exhibition, nor the texts drawn up by the exhibit’s editorial authorities, provide a precise definition of what a human zoo is understood to be. Nevertheless, the editors seem to accept the concept as being applicable to all of the various forms of public show featured in the exhibition, all of which seem to have been designed with a shared contempt for and exclusion of the “other”. Therefore, the label “human zoo” implicitly applies to a variety of shows whose common aim was the public display of human beings, with the sole purpose of showing their peculiar morphological or ethnic condition. Both the typology of the events and the condition of the individuals shown vary widely: ranging from the (generally individual) presentation of persons with crippling pathologies (exotic or more often domestic freaks or “human monsters”) to singular physical conditions (giants, dwarves or extremely obese individuals) or the display of individuals, families or groups of exotic peoples or savages, arrived or more usually brought, from distant colonies.[1]The purpose of the 2001 conference had been to present the available information about such shows, to encourage their study from an academic perspective and, most importantly, to publicly denounce these material and symbolic contexts of domination and stigmatisation, which would have had a prominent role in the complex and dense animalisation mechanisms of the colonised peoples by the “civilized West”. A scientific and editorial project guided by such intentions could not fail to draw widespread support from academic, social and journalistic quarters. Reviews of the original 2002 text and successive editions have, for the most part, been very positive, and praise for what was certainly an extraordinary exhibition (the one of 2012) has been even more unanimous.[2] However, most commentators have limited their remarks to praising the important anti-racist content and criticisms of the colonial legacy, which are common to both undertakings. Only a few authors have drawn attention to certain conceptual and interpretative problems with the presumed object of study, the “human zoos”, problems which would undermine the project’s solidity (Blanckaert, 2002; Jennings, 2005; Liauzu, 2005: 10; Parsons, 2010; McLean, 2012). Problems which may arise from the indiscriminate use of the concept of the “human zoo” will be discussed in detail at the end of this article.Firstly, however, a revision of the complex historical process underlying the polymorphic phenomenon of the living exhibition and its configurations will provide the background for more detailed study. This will consist of an outline of three groups which, in my view, are the most relevant exhibition categories. Although the public display of human beings can be traced far back in history in many different contexts (war, funerals and sacred contexts, prisons, fairs, etc…) the configuration and expansion of different varieties of ethnic shows are closely and directly linked to two historical phenomena which lie at the very basis of modernity: exhibitions and colonialism. The former began to appear at national contests and competitions (both industrial and agricultural). These were organised in some European countries in the second half of the eighteenth century, but it was only in the century that followed that they acquired new and shocking material and symbolic dimensions, in the shape of the international or universal exhibition.The key date was 1851, when the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was held in London. The triumph of the London event, its rapid and continuing success in France and the increasing participation (which will be outlined) of indigenous peoples from the colonies, paved the way from the 1880s for a new exhibition model: the colonial exhibition (whether official or private, national or international) which almost always featured the presence of indigenous human beings. However, less spectacular exhibitions had already been organised on a smaller scale for many years, since about the mid-nineteenth century. Some of these were truly impressive events, which in some cases also featured native peoples. These were the early missionary (or ethnological-missionary) exhibitions, which initially were mainly British and Protestant, but later also Catholic.[3] Finally, the unsophisticated ethnological exhibitions which had been typical in England (particularly in London) in the early-nineteenth century, underwent a gradual transformation from the middle of the century, which saw them develop into the most popular form of commercial ethnological exhibition. These changes were initially influenced by the famous US circus impresario P.T. Barnum’s human exhibitions. Later on, from 1874, Barnum’s displays were successfully reinterpreted (through the incorporation of wild animals and groups of exotic individuals) by Carl Hagenbeck.The second factor which was decisive in shaping the modern ethnic show was imperial colonialism, which gathered in momentum from the 1870s. The propagandising effect of imperialism was facilitated by two emerging scientific disciplines, physical anthropology and ethnology, which propagated colonial images and mystifications amid the metropolitan population. This, coupled with robust new levels of consumerism amongst the bourgeoisie and the upper strata of the working classes, had a greater impact upon our subject than the economic and geostrategic consequences of imperialism overseas. In fact, the new context of geopolitical, scientific and economic expansion turned the formerly “mysterious savages” into a relatively accessible object of study for certain sections of society. Regardless of how much was written about their exotic ways of life, or strange religious beliefs, the public always wanted more: seeking participation in more “intense” and “true” encounters and to feel part of that network of forces (political, economic, military, academic and religious) that ruled even the farthest corners of the world and its most primitive inhabitants.It was precisely the convergence of this web of interests and opportunities within the new exhibition universe that had already consolidated by the end of the 1870s, and which was to become the defining factor in the transition. From the older, popular model of human exhibitions which had dominated so far, we see a reduction in the numbers of exhibitions of isolated individuals classified as strange, monstrous or simply exotic, in favour of adequately-staged displays of families and groups of peoples considered savage or primitive, authentic living examples of humanity from a bygone age. Of course, this new interest, this new desire to see and feel the “other” was fostered not only by exhibition impresarios, but by industrialists and merchants who traded in the colonies, by colonial administrators and missionary societies. In turn, the process was driven forward by the strongly positive reaction of the public, who asked for more: more exoticism, more colonial products, more civilising missions, more conversions, more native populations submitted to the white man’s power; ultimately, more spectacle.Despite the differences that can be observed within the catalogue of exhibitions, their success hinged to a great extent upon a single factor: the representation or display of human beings labelled as exotic or savage, which today strikes us as unsettling and distasteful. It can therefore be of little surprise that most, if not all, of the visitors to the Quai de Branly Museum exhibiton of 2012 reacted to the ethnic shows with a fundamental question: how was it possible that such repulsive shows had been organised? Although many would simply respond with two words, domination and racism, the question is certainly more complex. In order to provide an answer, the content and meanings of the three main models or varieties of the modern ethnic show –commercial ethnological exhibitions, colonial exhibitions and missionary exhibitions– will be studied.

ETHNOLOGICAL COMMERCIAL EXHIBITIONS: LEISURE, BUSINESS AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL SCIENCE

Commercial ethnological exhibitions were managed by private entrepreneurs, who very often acted as de facto owners of the individuals they exhibited. With the seemingly-noble purpose of bringing the inhabitants of exotic and faraway lands closer to the public and placing them under the scrutiny of anthropologists and scholarly minds, these individuals organised events with a rather carnival-like air, whose sole purpose was very simple: to make money. Such exhibitions were held more frequently than their colonial equivalents, which they predated and for which they served as an inspiration. In fact, in some countries where (overseas) colonial expansion was delayed or minimal –such as Germany (Thode-Arora, 1989; Kosok y Jamin, 1992; Klös, 2000; Dreesbach, 2005; Nagel, 2010), Austria (Schwarz, 2001) or Switzerland (Staehelin, 1993; Minder, 2008)– and even in some former colonies –such as Brazil (Sánchez-Arteaga and El-Hani, 2010)– they were regular and popular events and could still be seen in some places as late as the 1950s. Even in the case of overseas superpowers, commercial exhibitions were held more regularly than the strictly-colonial variety, although it is true that they sometimes overlapped and can be difficult to distinguish from one another. This was the case in France (Bergougniou, Clignet and David, 2001; David, s.d.) and to an even greater extent in Great Britain, with London becoming a privileged place to experience them throughout the nineteenth century (Qureshi, 2011).Almost all of these exhibitions attracted their audiences with a clever combination of racial spectacle, erotism and a few drops of anthropological science, although there was no single recipe for a successful show. Dances, leaps, chants, shouts, and the blood of sacrificed animals were the fundamental components of these events, although they were also part of colonial exhibitions. All of these acts, these strange and unusual rituals, were as incomprehensible as they were exciting; as shocking as they were repulsive to the civilised citizens of “advanced” Europe. It is unsurprising that spectators were prepared to pay the price of admission, which was not cheap, in order to gain access to such extraordinary sights as these “authentic savages”. Over time, the need to attract increasingly demanding audiences, who quickly became used to seeing “blacks and savages” of all kinds in a variety of settings, challenged the entrepreneurs to provide ever more compelling spectacles.For decades the most admired shows on European soil were organised by Carl Hagenbeck (1844–1913), a businessman from Hamburg who was a seasoned wild animal showman (Ames, 2008). His greatest success was founded on a truly spectacular innovation: the simultaneous exhibition in one space (a zoo or other outdoor enclosure) of wild animals and a group of natives, both supposedly from the same territory, in a setting that recreated the environment of their place of origin. The first exhibition of this type, organised in 1874, was a great success, despite the relatively low level of exoticism of the individuals displayed: a group of Sami (Lap) men and women accompanied by some reindeer. Whilst not all of Hagenbeck’s highly successful shows (of which there were over 50 in total) relied upon the juxtaposition of humans and animals, all presented a racial spectacle of exotic peoples typically displayed against a backdrop of huts, plants and domestic ware, and included indigenous groups from the distant territories of Africa, the Arctic, India, Ceylon, and Southeast Asia. For many scholars Hagenbeck’s Völkerschauen or Völkerausstellungen constituted the paradigmatic example of a human zoo, which is also accepted by the French historians who organised the project under the same name. They tended to combine displays of people and animals and took place in zoos, so the analogy could not be clearer. Furthermore, the performances of the exhibited peoples were limited to songs, dances and rituals, and for the most part their activities consisted of little more than day-to-day tasks and activities. Therefore, little importance was attached to their knowledge or skills, but rather to the scrutiny of their gestures, their distinctive bodies and behaviours, which were invariably exotic but not always wild.However, despite their obvious racial and largely-racist components, Hagenbeck’s shows cannot be simply dismissed as human zoos. As an entrepreneur, the German’s objective was obviously to profit from the display of animals and people alike, and yet we cannot conclude that the humans were reduced to the status of animals. In fact, the natives were always employed and seem to have received fair treatment. Likewise, their display was based upon a premise of exoticism rather than savagery, in which key ideas of difference, faraway lands and adventure were ultimately exalted. Hagenbeck’s employees were apparently healthy; sometimes slender, as were the Ethiopians, or even athletic, like the Sudanese. In some instances (for example, with people from India and Ceylon) their greatest appeal was their almost-fantastic exoticism, with their rich costumes and ritual gestures being regarded as remarkable and sophisticated.Nevertheless, on many other occasions, people were displayed for their distinctiveness and supposed primitivism, as was the case on the dramatic tour of the Inuit Abraham Ulrikab and his family, from the Labrador Peninsula, all of whom fell ill and died on their journey due to a lack of appropriate vaccination. This is undoubtedly one of the best-documented commercial exhibitions, not because of an abundance of details concerning its organisation, but owing to the existence of several letters and a brief diary written by Ulrikab himself (Lutz, 2005). As can easily be imagined, it is absolutely exceptional to find information originating from one of the very individuals who featured in an ethnic show; not an alleged oral testimony collected by a third party, but their own actual voice. The vast majority of such people did not know the language of their exhibitors and, even if they knew enough to communicate, it is highly unlikely that they would have been able to write in it. All of this, coupled with the fact that the documents have been preserved and remain accessible, is almost a miracle.However, in spite the tragic fate of Ulrikab and his family, other contemporary ethnic shows were far more exploitative and brutal. This was the case with several exhibitions that toured Europe towards the end of the 1870s, whose victims included Fuegians, Inuits, primitive Africans (especially Bushmen and Pygmies) or Australian aboriginal peoples. Some were complex and relatively sophisticated and included the recreation of native villages; in others, the entrepreneur simply portrayed his workers with their traditional clothes and weapons, emphasising their supposedly primitive condition. Slightly less dramatic than these, but more racially stigmatising than Hagenbeck’s shows, were the exhibitions held at the Jardin d’Aclimatation in Paris, between 1877 and the First World War. A highly-lucrative business camouflaged beneath a halo of anthropological scientifism, the exhibitions were organised by the director of the Jardin himself, the naturalist Albert Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (Coutancier and Barthe, 1995; Mason, 2001: 19–54; David, n.d.; Schneider, 2002; Báez y Mason, 2006). This purported scientific and educational institution enjoyed the attention of French anthropologists for a time; however, after 1886, the Anthropological Society in Paris distanced itself from something that was little more than it appeared to be: a spectacle for popular recreation which was hard to justify from an ethical point of view. In the case of many private enterprises from the 1870s and 1880s, in particular, shows can be described as moving away from notions of fantasy, adventure and exotism and towards the most brutal forms of exploitation. However, despite what has been said about France, Qureshi (2011: 278–279) highlights the role that ethnologists and anthropologists (and their study societies) played in Great Britain in approving commercial exhibitions of this sort. This enabled exhibitions to claim legitimacy as spaces for scientific research, visitor education and, of course, the advancement of the colonial enterprise.Leaving aside the displays of isolated individuals in theatres, exhibition halls, or fairgrounds (where the alleged “savage” sometimes proved to be a fraud), photographs and surviving information about the aforementioned commercial ethnological shows speak volumes about the relations which existed between the exhibitors and the exhibited. In nearly all cases the impresario was a European or North American, who wielded almost absolute control over the lives of their “workers”. Formal contracts did exist and legal control became increasingly widespread, especially in Great Britain, (Qureshi, 2011: 273) as the nineteenth century progressed. It is also evident, nevertheless, that this contractual relationship could not mask the dominating, exploitative and almost penitentiary conditions of the bonds created. Whether Inuit, Bushmen, Australians, Pygmies, Samoans or Fuegians, it is hard to accept that all contracted peoples were aware of the implications of this legal binding with their employer. Whilst most were not captured or kidnapped (although this was documented on more than one occasion) it is reasonable to be skeptical about the voluntary nature of the commercial relationship. Moreover, those very same contracts (which they were probably unable to understand in the first place) committed the natives to conditions of travel, work and accommodation which were not always satisfactory. Very often their lives could be described as confined, not only when performances were taking place, but also when they were over. Exhibited individuals were very rarely given leave to move freely around the towns that the exhibitions visited.The exploitative and inhuman aspects of some of these spectacles were particularly flagrant when they included children, who either formed part of the initial contingent of people, or swelled the ranks of the group when they were born on tour. On the one hand, the more primitive the peoples exhibited were, the more brutal their exhibition became and the circumstances in which it took place grew more painful. Conversely, conditions seemed to improve, albeit only to a limited extent, when individuals belonged to an ethnic group which was more “evolved”, “prouder”, held warrior status, or belonged to a local elite. This was true of certain African groups who were particularly resistant to colonial domination, with the Ashanti being a case in point. In spite of this, their subordinate position did not change.There was, however, a certain type of commercial show in which the relations between the employer and the employees went beyond the merely commercial. More professionalised shows often required natives to demonstrate skills and give performances that would appeal to the audience. This was the case in some (of the more serious and elaborate) circus contexts and dramatised spectacles, the most notable of which was the acclaimed Wild West show. Directed by William Frederick Cody (1846–1917), the famous Buffalo Bill, the show featured cowboys, Mexicans, and members of various Native American ethnic groups (Kasson, 2000). This attraction, and many others that followed in the wake of its success, could be considered the predecessors of present-day theme park shows. Many of the shows which continued to endure during the interwar period were in some measure similar to those of the nineteenth century, although they were unable to match the popularity of yesteryear. Whilst the stages were still set with reproduction native villages, as had been the case in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, the exhibition and presentation of natives acquired a more fair-like and circus-like character, which harked back to the spectacles of the early-nineteenth century. Although it seems contradictory, colonial exhibitions at this time were in fact much larger and more numerous, as we shall see in the following section. It was precisely then, in the mid-1930s, that Nazi Germany, a very modern country with the most intensely-racist government, produced an ethnic show which illustrates the complexity of the human zoo phenomenon. The Deutsche Afrika-Schau (German African Show) provides an excellent example of the peculiar game which was played between owners, employees and public administrators, concerning the display of exotic human beings. The show, a striking and an incongruous fusion of variety spectacle and Völkerschau, toured several German towns between 1935 and 1940 (Lewerenz, 2006). Originally a private and strictly commercial business, it soon became a peculiar semi-official event in which African and Samoan men and women, resident in Germany, were legally employed to take part. Complicated and unstable after its Nazification, the show aimed to facilitate the racial control of its participants while serving as a mechanism of ideological indoctrination and colonial propaganda. Incapable of profiting from the show, the Nazi regime would eventually abolish it.After the Second World War, ethnic shows entered a phase of obvious decline. They were no longer of interest as a platform for the wild and exotic, mainly due to increasing competition from new and more accessible channels of entertainment, ranging from cinema to the beginnings of overseas tourism within Europe and beyond. While the occasional spectacle tried to profit from the ancient curiosity about the morbid and the unusual as late as the 1950s and even the 1960s, they were little more than crude and clumsy representations, which generated little interest among the public. Nowadays, as before, there are still contexts and spaces in which unique persons are portrayed, whether this is related to ethnicity or any other factor. These spectacles often fall into the category of artistic performances or take the banal form of reality TV.

COLONIAL EXHIBITIONS: LEISURE, BUSINESS AND INDOCTRINATION
This category of exhibition was organised by either public administrations or private institutions linked to colonial enterprise, and very often featured some degree of collaboration between the two. The main aim of these events was to exhibit official colonial projects and private initiatives managed by entrepreneurs and colonial settlers, which were supposedly intended to bring the wealth and well-being of the metropolis to the colonies. The presentation also carried an educational message, intended not only to reinforce the “national-colonial conscience” among its citizens, but also to project a powerful image of the metropolis to competing powers abroad. Faced with the likelihood that such content would prove rather unexciting and potentially boring for visitors, the organisers resorted to various additions which were considered more attractive and engaging. Firstly they devised a museum of sorts, in which ethnographic materials of the colonised peoples: their traditional dress, day-to-day objects, idols and weapons, were exhibited. These exotic and unusual pieces did draw the interest of the public, but, fearing that this would not be sufficient, the organisers knew that they could potentially sell thousands of tickets by offering the live display of indigenous peoples. If the exhibition was official, the natives constituted the ideal means by which to deliver the colonial message to the masses. In the case of private exhibitions, they were seen as the fastest and safest way to guarantee a show’s financial success.Raw materials and a variety of other objects (including ethnographic exhibitions) from the colonies were already placed on show at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. These items were accompanied by a number of individuals originating from the same territories, either as visitors or as participants in the relevant section of the exhibition. However, such people cannot be considered as exhibits themselves; neither can similar colonial visitors at the Paris (1855) or London (1862) exhibitions; nor the Paris (1867) and (1878) exhibitions, which featured important colonial sections. It was only at the start of the 1880s that Europeans were able to enjoy the first colonial exhibitions proper, whether autonomous or connected (albeit with an identity and an entity of their own) to a universal or international exhibition. It could be argued that the Amsterdam International Colonial and Export Exhibition of 1883 acted as a letter of introduction for this model of event (Bloembergen, 2006), and it was quickly followed by the London Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 (Mathur, 2000) and, to a lesser though important extent, by the Madrid Philippines Exhibition of 1887 (Sánchez-Gómez, 2003). All three housed reproductions of native villages and exhibited dozens of individuals brought from the colonies. This was precisely what attracted the thousands of people who packed the venues. Such success would not have been possible by simply assembling a display of historical documents, photographs or ethnographic materials, no matter how exotic.Thereafter, colonial exhibitions (almost all of which featured the live presence of native peoples) multiplied, whether they were autonomous or connected with national or international exhibitions. In France many municipalities and chambers of commerce began to organise their own exhibits, some of which (such as the Lyon Exhibition of 1894) were theoretically international in scope, although some of the most impressive exhibits held in the country were the colonial sections of the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889 (Palermo, 2003; Tran, 2007; Wyss, 2010) and 1900 (Wilson, 1991; Mabire, 2000; Geppert, 2010: 62–100). Equally successful were the colonial sections of the Belgian exhibitions of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, which displayed the products and peoples of what was called the Congo Independent State (later the Belgian Congo), which until 1908 was a personal possession of King Leopold II. The most remarkable was probably the 1897 Tervuren Exhibition, an annex of the Brussels International Exposition of the same year (Wynants, 1997; Küster, 2006). In Germany, one of the European capitals of commercial ethnological shows, several colonial exhibitions were orchestrated as the overseas empire was being built between 1884 and 1918. Among them, the Erste Deutsche Kolonialausstellung or First German Colonial Exhibition, which was organised as a complement to the great Berlin Gewerbeausstellung (Industrial Exhibition) of 1896, was particularly successful (Arnold, 1995; Richter, 1995; Heyden, 2002).As far as the United States was concerned, the country’s late but impetuous arrival as a world power was almost immediately heralded by the phenomenon of the World’s Fair, and the respective colonial sections (Rydell, 1984 y 1993; Rydell, Findling y Pelle, 2000). Whilst a stunning variety of ethnic performances were already on show at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, it was at Omaha, (1898) Buffalo, (1901) and above all at the 1904 Saint Louis Exhibition, that hundreds of natives were enthusiastically displayed with the purpose of publicising and gathering support for the complex and “heavy” civilising task (“The White Man’s Burden”) that the North American nation had to undertake in its new overseas possessions (Kramer, 1999; Parezo y Fowler, 2007).In principle, those natives who took part in the live section of a colonial exhibition did so of their own accord, whether they were allegedly savage or civilised individuals, and regardless of whether the show had been organised through concessions to private company owners or those who indirectly depended on public agencies. Although neither violence nor kidnapping has been recorded, it is highly unlikely that most of the natives who took up the invitation were fully aware of its implications: again, the great distances they had to travel, the discomforts they would endure and the situations in which they would be involved upon arrival in the metropolis.Until the early-twentieth century, the sole purpose of native exhibitions was to attract an audience and to show, with the exemplar of a “real” image, the inferior condition of the colonised peoples and the need to continue the civilising mission in the faraway lands from which they came. In all cases their living conditions in the metropolis were unlikely to differ greatly from those of the participants in purely commercial shows: usually residing inside the exhibition venue, they were rarely free to leave without the express permission of their supervisors. However, it must be said that conditions were considerably better for the individuals exhibited when the shows were organised by government agencies, who always ensured that formal contracts were signed, and were probably unlikely to house people in the truly gruesome conditions present in some domains of the private sector. In some cases, added circumstances can be inferred which reveal a clear interest in “doing things properly”, by developing an ethical and responsible show, no matter how impossible this was in practice. Perhaps the clearest example of this kind of event is the Philippines Exhibition which was organized in Madrid in 1887.The most striking feature of this exhibition was its stated educational purpose, to present a sample of the ethnic and social diversity of the archipelago. Other colonial exhibitions attempted to do the same, but in this case the intentions of the Spanish appeared to be more authentic and credible. Of course the aim was not to provide a lesson in island ethnography, but to prove the extent to which the Catholic Church had managed to convert the native population, and to show where savage tribes still existed. Representing the latter were, among others, several Tinguian and Bontoc persons (generically known as Igorots by the Spanish) and an Aeta person, referred to as a Negrito. Several Muslim men and women from Mindanao and the Joló (Sulu) archipelago (known to the Spanish as Moros or “Moors”) also took part in the exhibition, not because they were considered savages but on account of their pagan and unredeemed condition. Finally, as an example of the benefits of the colonial enterprise, Christian Filipinos (both men and women) were invited to demonstrate their artistic skill and craftsmanship and to sell their artisan products from various structures within the venue. All were legally employed and received regular payment until their return to the Philippines, which was very unusual for an exhibition at that time.However, despite the “good intentions” of the administration, an obvious hierarchy can be inferred from the spatial pattern through which the Filipino presence in Madrid was organised. Individuals considered savage lived inside the exhibit enclosure and were under permanent control; they could visit the city but always in a scheduled and closely-directed way. Muslims, however, did not live inside the park, but in boarding houses and inns. Their movements were also restricted, but this was justified on the basis of their limited knowledge of their surroundings. Christians also lodged at inns, and although they did enjoy a certain autonomy, their status as “special guests” imposed a number of official commitments and the compulsory attendance of events. Such differences became even more obvious, especially for the audience, not just because the savages lived inside the ranchería or native village, where they were exhibited, but also because their only purpose was to dance, gesture, eat and display their half-naked bodies. Muslims were not exhibited, nor did they have a clear or specific task to perform beyond merely “representing”. Christian men and women (cigar makers and artisans) simply performed their professional tasks in front of the audience, and were expected to complete a given timetable and workload as would any other worker.In the light of the above, it may be concluded that the Philippines Exhibition of 1887 (specifically the live exhibition section) was conducted in a manner which questions the simplistic concept of a human zoo that many historians apply to these spectacles. Although there were certain similarities with commercial shows, we must admit that the Spanish government made considerable efforts to ensure that the exhibition, and above all the participation of the Filipinos, was carried out in a relatively dignified fashion. It must be reiterated that this is not intended to project a benevolent image of nineteenth-century Spanish colonialism. The position of some of the exhibited, especially those considered savages, was not only subordinate but almost subhuman (almost being the key word), in spite of the fact that they received due payment and were relatively well fed. Moreover, we cannot forget that three of the participants (a Carolino man and woman, and a Muslim woman) died from diseases which were directly related to the conditions of their stay on the exhibition premises.As the twentieth century advanced, colonial shows changed their direction and content, although it was some time before these changes took effect. The years prior to the First World War saw several national colonial exhibitions (Marseille and Paris in 1906; London in 1911),[4] two binational exhibitions (London, 1908 and 1910)[5] and a trinational (London, 1909),[6] which became benchmarks for exhibition organisers during the interwar years. The early twentieth century also saw several national colonial sections, wich had varying degrees of impact, in three universal exhibitions organised in Belgium: Liège (1905), Brussels (1910) and Ghent (1913) and in several exhibitions organised in three different Italian cities, although none of these included a native section.[7] However, it was during the 1920s and 1930s that a true eclosion of national and international exhibitions, whose main focus was colonial or which included important colonial elements, occurred.[8] The time was not only ripe for ostentatious reasons, but also because the tension originated by certain European powers, especially Italy, encouraged a vindication of overseas colonies through the propaganda that was deployed at these events.For all these reasons, and in addition to many other minor events, national colonial exhibitions were staged in Marseille (1922), Wembley (1924–25),[9] Stuttgart (1928),[10] Koln (1934), Oporto (1934), Freiburg im Breisgau (1935), Como (1937),[11] Glasgow (1938),[12] Dresden (1939), Vienna (1940) and Naples (1940).[13] At an international colonial level, the most important was the 1931 Parisian Exposition Coloniale Internationale et des Pays d’Outre Mer. In addition, although they were not specialised international colonial exhibitions, outstanding and relevant colonial sections could be found at the Turin National Exhibition of 1928, the Iberian-American Exhibition of 1929, the Brussels Universal Exhibition of 1935, the Paris International Exhibition of 1937 and the Lisbon National Exhibition of 1940.At most of these events, a revised perspective of overseas territories was projected. Although, with some exceptions, metropolises continued to import indigenous peoples and persisted in presenting them as exotic, the focus was now shifted on to the results of the civilising process, as opposed to strident representations of savagery. This meant that it was no longer necessary for exhibited peoples to live at the exhibition venue. The aim was now to show the most attractive side of empire, and displays of the skills of its inhabitants, such as singing or dancing continued, albeit in a more serious, professional fashion. In principle, natives taking part in these exhibitions could move around more freely; in addition, they were all employed as any other professional or worker would be. However, once again the ethnic factor came into play, materialising under many different guises. For example, at the at the Paris Exhibition of 1931, people who belonged to “oriental civilisations” appeared at liberty to move around the venue, they were not put on display, and devoted their time to the activities for which they had been contracted (such as traditional songs and dances, handicrafts or sale of products). Once their working day was completed, they were free to visit the exhibition or travel around Paris. However, the same could not be said for the Guineans arriving at the Seville Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929, where they were clearly depicted in a savagist context, similar to the way in which Africans had been displayed in colonial and even commercial exhibitions in the nineteenth century (Sánchez-Gómez, 2006).Another interwar colonial exhibition which was unable to free itself from nineteenth-century stereotypes was the one held in Oporto in 1934, which included several living villages inhabited by natives, children included (Serén, 2001). Their presence in the city and the fact that they were displayed and lived within the same exhibition space was something that neither the press nor contemporary politicians saw fit to criticise. In fact it was the pretos (black African men) and especially pretas (black African women) who were the main attraction for thousands of visitors who thronged to the event, which was probably related to the fact that all the natives were bare-chested. Interestingly, the Catholic Church did not take offense, perhaps interpreting the women shown as being merely “black savages” who had little to do with chaste Portuguese women. Of course they had no objections to the exhibition of human beings either.Two interwar exhibitions (Seville and Oporto) have been cited as examples where the management of indigenous participants markedly resembled the practices of the nineteenth century. However, this should not imply that other events refrained from the (more or less) sophisticated manipulation of the native presence. The most significant example was the Parisian International Colonial Exhibition of 1931.[14] Some historians highlight the fact that the general organiser, Marshall Lyautey, managed to impose his criterion that the exhibition should not include displays of the traditional “black villages” or “indigenous villages” inhabited by natives. Although it is true that the official (French and International) sections did not include this feature,[15] there can be little doubt that this was a gigantic ethnic spectacle, where hundreds of native peoples (who were present in the city as artists, artisans or simply as guests) were exhibited and manipulated as a source of propaganda of the highest order for the colonial enterprise. This is just one more example, although a particularly significant one, of the multi-faceted character that ethnic shows acquired. It is difficult to define these simply on the basis of their brutality or “animal” characteristics, their closeness to Hagenbeck’s Völkerschauen or the anthropological exhibitions that were organised at the Jardin d’Acclimatation in late-nineteenth century Paris.The last major European colonial exhibition took place in the anachronistic Belgian Congo section of the Brussels Universal Exhibition of 1958, the first to be held after the Second World War.[16] In principle, its contents were organised around a discourse which defended the moral values of interracial fraternity and which set out to convince both Belgian society and the Congolese that Belgians were only in Congo to civilise, and not to exploit. In order to prove the authenticity of this discourse, the organisers went to great pains to avoid the jingoistic exoticism which had characterised most colonial exhibits thus far. In accordance with this, the event did not include the traditional, demeaning spectacle of natives living within the exhibition space. However, it did include an exotic section, where several dozen Congolese artisans demonstrated their skills to the audience and sold the products manufactured there in a context which was intended to be purely commercial. Unfortunately, the good will of the organisers was betrayed by an element of the public, who could not help confronting the Africans in a manner reminiscent of their grandparents back in 1897. This resulted in the artisans abruptly leaving the exhibition for Congo after being shocked by the insolence and bad manners of some of the visitors.The Congolese presence in Brussels was not limited to these artisans: almost seven hundred Africans arrived, two hundred of which were tourists who had been invited with the specific purpose of visiting the exhibition. Most of them were members of the “Association of African Middle Classes”, that is, they were part of the “evolved elite”. The remaining figures were made up of people who were carrying out some sort of task in the colonial section of the exhibition, whether as specialised workers, dancers, guides or as assistants in the various sections, perhaps including some members of the Public Force, made up of natives. The presence in Brussels of the tourists, in particular, was part of a policy of association, which, according to the organisers, was intended to prepare “the Congolese population for the complete realisation of their human destiny.” The Belgian population, in turn, would have the chance to become better acquainted with these people through a “direct, personal and free contact with the civilised Congolese” (Delhalle, 1985: 44). Neither this specific measure nor any others taken to bring blacks and whites closer seem to have had any practical effect whatsoever. In fact, although the Congolese visitors were cared for relatively well (although not without differences or setbacks), their movements during their stay in Brussels were under constant scrutiny, to prevent them from being “contaminated” by the “bad habits” of the metropolitan citizens.Despite everything mentioned thus far, or perhaps even because of it, the 1958 exhibition was an enormous public success, on a par with the colonial events of the past. This time, as before, it was predicated on a largely negative image of the Congolese population. Barely any critical voices were heard against the exhibiting model or the abuses of the colonial system, not even from the political left. Finally, as with earlier colonial exhibitions, it is obvious that what was shown in Brussels had little to do with the reality of life in Congo. In fact, as the exhibition closed down, in October 1958, Patrice Lumumba founded the Congolese National Movement. On the 11th of January of 1959, repression of the struggles for independence escalated into the bloody killings of Léopoldville, the colonial capital. Barely one year later, on the 30th of June 1960, Belgium formally acknowledged the independence of the new Democratic Republic of Congo; two years later Rwanda and Burundi followed.
MISSIONARY EXHIBITIONS: DOMINATION, FAITH AND SPECTACLE
The excitement that exhibitions generated in the second half of the nineteenth century provoked reactions from many quarters, including Christian churches. Of course, the event which shook Protestant propagandist sensibilities the hardest (as Protestants were the first to take part in the exhibition game) was the 1851 London Exhibition. However, the interest which both the Anglican Church and many evangelical denominations expressed in participating in this great event was initially met with hesitation and even rejection by the organisers (Cantor, 2011). Finally their participation was accepted, but only two missionary societies were authorised to officially become an integral part of the exhibition, and they could only do so as editors of printed religious works.The problems that were documented in London in 1851 continued to affect events organised throughout the rest of the century; in fact, the presence of the Christian churches was permitted on only two occasions, both in Paris, at the exhibitions of 1867 and 1900. At the first of these, it was only Protestant organisations that participated, as the Catholic Church did not yet recognise the importance of such an event as an exhibitional showcase. By the time of the second, which was the last great exhibition of the nineteenth century and one of the most grandiose of all time, the situation had changed dramatically; both Protestants and Catholics participated and the latter (the French Church, to be precise) did so with greater success than its Protestant counterpart.[18]The opposition that missionary societies encountered at nineteenth-century international exhibitions encouraged them to organise events of their own. The first autonomous missionary events were Protestant and possibly took place prior to 1851. In any case, this has been confirmed as the year that the Methodist Wesleyan Missionary Society organised a missionary exhibition (which took place at the same time as the International Exhibition). Small in size and very simple in structure, it was held for only two days during the month of June, although it provided the extraordinary opportunity to see and acquire shells, corals and varied ethnographic materials (including idols) from Tonga and Fiji.[19] The exhibition’s aim was very specific: to make a profit from ticket sales and the materials exhibited and to seek general support for the missionary enterprise.Whether or not they were directly influenced by the international event of 1851, the modest British missionary exhibitions of the mid-nineteenth century began to evolve rapidly from the 1870s, reaching truly spectacular proportions in the first third of the twentieth century. This enormous success was due to a particular set of circumstances which were not true for the Catholic sphere. Firstly, the exhibits were a fantastic source of propaganda, and furthermore, they generated a direct and immediate cash income. This is significant considering that Protestant church societies and committees neither depended upon, nor were linked to (at least not directly or officially) civil administration and almost all revenue came from the personal contributions of the faithful. Secondly, because Protestants organised their own events, there was no reason for them to participate in the official colonial exhibitions, with which the Catholic missions became repeatedly involved once the old prejudices of government had fallen away by the later years of the nineteenth century. In this way, evangelical communities were able to maintain their independence from the imperial enterprise, yet in a manner that did not preclude them from collaborating with it whenever it was in their interests to do so.However, whether Catholic or Protestant, the main characteristic of the missionary exhibitions in the timeframe of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, was their ethnological intent (Sánchez-Gómez, 2013). The ethnographic objects of converted peoples (and of those who had yet to be converted) were noteworthy for their exoticism and rarity, and became a true magnet for audiences. They were also supposedly irrefutable proof of the “backward” and even “depraved” nature of such peoples, who had to be liberated by the redemptive missions which all Christians were expected to support spiritually and financially. But as tastes changed and the public began to lose interest, the exhibitions started to grow in size and complexity, and increasingly began to feature new attractions, such as dioramas and sculptures of native groups. Finally, the most sophisticated of them began to include the natives themselves as part of the show. It must be said that, but for rare exceptions, these were not exhibitions in the style of the famous German Völkerschauen or British ethnological exhibitions, but mere performances; in fact, the “guests” had already been baptized, were Christians, and allegedly willing to collaborate with their benefactors.Whilst the Protestant churches (British and North American alike) produced representations of indigenous peoples with the greatest frequency and intensity, it was (as far as we know) the (Italian) Catholic Church that had the dubious honour of being the first to display natives at a missionary exhibition, and did so in a clearly savagist and rudimentary fashion, which could even be described as brutal. This occurred in the religious section of the Italian-American Exhibition of Genoa in 1892 (Bottaro, 1984; Perrone, n.d.). As a shocking addition to the usual ethnographic and missionary collections, seven natives were exhibited in front of the audience: four Fuegians and three Mapuches of both sexes (children, young and fully-grown adults) brought from America by missionaries. The Fuegians, who were dressed only in skins and armed with bows and arrows, spent their time inside a hut made from branches which had been built in the garden of the pavilion housing the missionary exhibition. The Mapuches were two young girls and a man; the three of them lived inside another hut, where they made handicrafts under the watchful eye of their keepers.The exhibition appears to have been a great success, but it must have been evident that the model was too simple in concept, and inhumanitarian in its approach to the indigenous people present. In fact, whilst subsequent exhibitions also featured a native presence (always Christianised) at the invitation of the clergy, the Catholic Church never again fell into such a rough presentation and representation of the obsolete and savage way of life of its converted. To provide an illustration of those times, now happily overcome by the missionary enterprise, Catholic congregations resorted to dioramas and sculptures, some of which were of superb technical and artistic quality.Although the Catholic Church may have organised the first live missionary exhibition, it should not be forgotten that they joined the exhibitional sphere much later than the evangelical churches. Also, a considerable number of their displays were associated with colonial events, something that the Protestant churches avoided. This happened, for example, at the colonial exhibitions of Lyon (1894), Berlin 1896 (although this also involved Protestant churches) and Brussels-Tervuren (1897), as well as at the National Exhibition of 1898 in Turin. Years later, the great colonial (national and international) exhibitions of the interwar period continued to receive the enthusiastic and uncritical participation of Catholic missions (although some, as in 1931, included Protestant missions too). The most remarkable examples were the Iberian-American Exhibition of Seville in 1929, the International Exhibitions held at Amberes (1930) and Paris (1931), and the Oporto (1934) and Lisbon (1937 and 1940) National Exhibitions.[20] This colonial-missionary association did not prevent the Catholic Church from organising its own autonomous exhibitions, through which it tried to emulate and even surpass its more experienced Protestant counterpart. Their belated effort culminated in two of the most spectacular Christian missionary exhibitions of all time: the Vatican Missionary Exhibition of 1925 and the Barcelona Missionary Exhibition of 1929, which was associated with the great international show of that year (Sánchez-Gómez, 2007 and 2006). Although both events documented native nuns and priests as visitors, no humans were exhibited. Again, dioramas and groups of sculptures were featured, representing both religious figures and indigenous peoples. Let us return to the Protestant world. Whilst it was the reformed churches that most readily incorporated native participation, they seemed to do so in a more sensitive and less brutalised manner than the Genoese Catholic Exhibition of 1892. We know of their presence at the first North American exhibitions: one of which was held at the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions, celebrated in New York in 1909 and, most significantly, at the great interdenominational The World in Boston Exhibition, in 1911 (Hasinoff, 2011). Native participation has also been recorded at the two most important British contemporary exhibitions: The Orient in London (held by the London Missionary Society in 1908) and Africa in the East (organised by the Church Missionary Society in 1909). Both exhibitions toured a number of British towns until the late 1920s, although for the most part without indigenous participation (Coombes, 1994; Cheang, 2006–2007).[21] However, the most spectacular Protestant exhibition, with hundreds of natives, dozens of stands, countless parades, theatrical performances, the latest thrill rides and exotic animals on display, was the gigantic Centenary Exhibition of American Methodist Missions, celebrated in Columbus in 1919 and popularly known as the Methodist’s World Fair (Anderson, 2006).The exhibition model at these early-twentieth century Protestant events was very similar to the colonial model. Native villages were reconstructed and ethnographic collections were presented, alongside examples of local flora and fauna, and of course, an abundance of information about missionary work, in which its evangelising, educational, medical and welfare aspects were presented. Some of these were equally as attractive to the audience (irrespective of their religious beliefs) as contemporary colonial or commercial exhibitions. However, it may be noted that the participation of Christianised natives took a radically different form from those of the colonial and commercial world. Those who were most capable and had a good command of English served as guides in the sections corresponding to their places of origin, a task that they tended to carry out in traditional clothing. More frequently these new Christians assumed roles with less responsibility, such as the manufacture of handicrafts, the sale of exotic objects or the recreation of certain aspects of their previous way of life. The organisers justified their presence by claiming that they were merely actors, representing their now-forgotten savage way of life. This may very well have been the case.At the Protestant exhibitions of the 1920s and 1930s, the presence of indigens became progressively less common until it eventually disappeared. This notwithstanding, the organisers came to benefit from a living resource which complemented displays of ethnographic materials whilst being more attractive to the audience than the usual dioramas. This was a theatrical representation of the native way of life (combined with scenes of missionary interaction) by white volunteers (both men and women) who were duly made up and in some cases appeared alongside real natives. Some of these performances were short, but others consisted of several acts and featured dozens of characters on stage. Regardless of their form, these spectacles were inherent to almost any British and North American exhibition, although much less frequent in continental Europe.Since the 1960s, the Christian missionary exhibition (both Protestant and Catholic) has been conducted along very different lines from those which have been discussed here. All direct or indirect associations with colonialism have been definitively given up; it has broken with racial or ethnological interpretations of converted peoples, and strongly defends its reputed autonomy from any political groups or interests, without forgetting that the essence of evangelisation is to maximize the visibility of its educational and charitable work among the most disadvantaged.
FINAL WORD
The three most important categories of modern ethnic show –commercial ethnological exhibitions, colonial exhibitions and missionary exhibitions– have been examined. All three resorted, to varying degrees, to the exhibition of exotic human beings in order to capture the attention of their audience, and, ultimately, to achieve certain goals: be they success in business and personal enrichment, social, political or financial backing for the colonial enterprise, or support for missionary work. Whilst on occasion they coincided at the same point in time and within the same context of representation, the uniqueness of each form of exhibition has been emphasised. However, this does not mean that they are completely separate phenomena, or that their representation of exotic “otherness” is homogeneous.Missionary exhibitions displayed perhaps the most singular traits due to their spiritual vision. However, it is clear that many made a determined effort to produce direct, visual and emotional spectacles and some, in so doing, resorted to representations of natives which were very similar to those of colonial exhibitions. Can we speak then, of a convergence of designs and interests? I honestly do not think so. At many colonial exhibitions, organisers showed a clear intention to portray natives as fearsome, savage individuals (sometimes even describing them as cannibals) who somehow needed to be subjugated. Peoples who were considered, to a lesser or greater extent, to be civilised were also displayed (as at the interwar exhibitions). However, the purpose of this was often to publicise the success of the colonial enterprise in its campaign for “the domestication of the savage”, rather than to present a message of humanitarianism or universal fraternity. Missionary exhibitions provided information and material examples of the former way of life of the converted, in which natives demonstrated that they had abandoned their savage condition and participated in the exhibition for the greater glory of the evangelising mission. Moreover, they also became living evidence that something much more transcendent than any civilising process was taking place: that once they had been baptised, anyone, no matter how wild they had once been, could become part of the same universal Christian family.It is certainly true that the shows that the audiences enjoyed at all of these exhibitions (whether missionary, colonial or even commercial) were very similar. Yet in the case of the former, the act of exhibition took place in a significantly more humanitarian context than in the others. And while it is evident that indigenous cultures and peoples were clearly manipulated in their representation at missionary exhibitions, this did not mean that the exhibited native was merely a passive element in the game. And there is something more. The dominating and spectacular qualities present in almost all missionary exhibitions should not let us forget one last factor which was essential to their conception, their development and even their longevity: Christian faith. Without Christian faith there would have been no missionary exhibitions, and had anything similar been organised, it would not have had the same meaning. It was essential that authentic Christian faith existed within the ecclesiastical hierarchy and within those responsible for congregations, missionary societies and committees. But the faith that really made the exhibitions possible was the faith of the missionaries, of others who were involved in their implementation and, of course, of those who visited. Although it was never recognised as such, this was perhaps an uncritical faith, complacent in its acceptance of the ways in which human diversity was represented and with ethical values that occasionally came close to the limits of Christian morality. But it was a faith nonetheless, a faith which intensified and grew with each exhibition, which surely fuelled both Christian religiosity (Catholic and Protestant alike) and at least several years of missionary enterprise, years crucial for the imperialist expansionism of the West. It is an objective fact that the display of human beings at commercial and colonial shows was always much more explicit and degrading than at any missionary exhibition. To state what has just been proposed more bluntly: missionary exhibitions were not “human zoos”. However, it is less clear whether the remaining categories: are commercial and colonial exhibitions worthy of this assertion (human zoos), or were they polymorphic ethnic shows of a much greater complexity?The principal analytical obstacle to the use of the term “human zoo” is that it makes an immediate and direct association between all of these acts and contexts and the idea of a nineteenth-century zoo. The images of caged animals, growling and howling, may cause admiration, but also disgust; they may sometimes inspire tenderness, but are mainly something to be avoided and feared due to their savage and bestial condition. This was definitely the case for the organisers of the scientific and editorial project cited at the beginning of this article, so it can be no surprise that Carl Hagenbeck’s joint exhibitions of exotic animals and peoples were chosen as the frame of reference for human zoos. Although the authors state in the first edition that “the human zoo is not the exhibition of savagery but its construction” [“le zoo humain n’est pas l’exhibition de la sauvagerie, mais la construction de celle-ci”] (Bancel et al., 2002: 17), the problem, as Blanckaert (2002) points out, is that this alleged construction or exhibitional structure was not present at most of the exhibitions under scrutiny, nor (and this is an added of mine) at those shown at the Exhibitions. L’invention du sauvage exhibit.Indeed, the expression “human zoo” establishes a model which does not fit with the meagre number of exhibitions of exotic individuals from the sixteenth, seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, nor with that of Saartjie Baartmann (the Hottentot Venus) of the early nineteenth century, much less with the freak shows of the twentieth century. Furthermore, this model can neither be compared to most of the nineteenth-century British human ethnological exhibitions, nor to most of the native villages of the colonial exhibitions, nor to the Wild West show of Buffalo Bill, let alone to the ruralist-traditionalist villages which were set up at many national and international exhibitions until the interwar period. Ultimately, their connection with many wandering “black villages” or “native villages” exhibited by impresarios at the end of the nineteenth century could also be disputed. Moreover, many of the shows organised by Hagenbeck number amongst the most professional in the exhibitional universe. The fact that they were held in zoos should not automatically imply that the circumstances in which they took place were more brutal or exploitative than those of any of the other ethnic shows.It is evident from all the shows which have been discussed, that the differential racial condition of the persons exhibited not only formed the basis of their exhibition, but may also have fostered and even founded racist reactions and attitudes held by the public. However, there are many other factors (political, economic and even aesthetic) which come into play and have barely been considered, which could be seen as encouraging admiration of the displays of bodies, gestures, skills, creations and knowledge which were seen as both exotic and seductive.In fact, the indiscriminate use of the very successful concept of “human zoo” generates two fundamental problems. Firstly it impedes our “true” knowledge of the object of study itself, that is, of the very varied ethnic shows which it intends to catalogue, given the great diversity of contexts, formats, persons in charge, objectives and materialisations that such enterprises have to offer. Secondly, the image of the zoo inevitably recreates the idea of an exhibition which is purely animalistic, where the only relationship is that which exists between exhibitor and exhibited: the complete domination of the latter (irrational beasts) by the former (rational beings). If we accept that the exhibited are treated merely as as more-or-less worthy animals, the consequences are twofold: a logical rejection of such shows past, present and future, and the visualization of the exhibited as passive victims of racism and capitalism in the West. It is therefore of no surprise that the research barely considers the role that these individuals may have played, the extent to which their participation in the show was voluntary and the interests which may have moved some of them to take part in these shows. Ultimately, no evaluation has been made of how these shows may have provided “opportunity contexts” for the exhibited, whether as commercial, colonial or missionary exhibitis. Whilst it is true that the exhibited peoples’ own voice is the hardest to record in any of these shows, greater effort could have been made in identifying and mapping them, as, when this happens, the results obtained are truly interesting (Dreesbach, 2005: 78).Before we conclude, it must be said that the proposed analysis does not intend to soften or justify the phenomenon of the ethnic show. Even in the least dramatic and exploitative cases it is evident that the essence of these shows was a marked inequality, in which every supposed “context of interaction” established a dichotomous relationship between black and white, North and South, colonisers and colonised, and ultimately, between dominators and dominated. My intention has been to propose a more-or-less classifying and clarifying approach to this varied world of human exhibitions, to make a basic inventory of their forms of representation and to determine which are the essential traits that define them, without losing sight of the contingent factors which they rely upon.

NOTES

ABSTRACT
The aim of this article is to study the living ethnological exhibitions. The main feature of these multiform varieties of public show, which became widespread in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Europe and the United States, was the live presence of individuals who were considered “primitive”. Whilst these native peoples sometimes gave demonstrations of their skills or produced manufactures for the audience, more often their role was simply as exhibits, to display their bodies and gestures, their different and singular condition. In this article, the three main forms of modern ethnic show (commercial, colonial and missionary) will be presented, together with a warning about the inadequacy of categorising all such spectacles under the label of “human zoos”, a term which has become common in both academic and media circles in recent years.Figure 8.   Postcard from the Deutsche Colonial-Ausstellung, Gewerbe Ausstellung (German Colonial Exhibition, Industrial Exhibition, Berlin 1896). Historische Bildpostkarten, Universität Osnabrück, Sammlung Prof. Dr. S. Giesbrecht (http://www.bildpostkarten.uni-osnabrueck.de).

[1]In order to avoid loading the text through the excessive use of punctuation marks, I have decided not to put words as blacks, savages or primitives in inverted commas; but by no means does this mean my acceptance of their contemporary racist connotations.

[2]Apart from its magnificent catalogue, the contents of the exhibition are also available online: http://www.quaibranly.fr/uploads/tx_gayafeespacepresse/MQB_DP_Exhibitions_01.pdf [accessed 13/November/2012].

[3]Missionary exhibitions are not an integral part of the repertoire of exhibitions studied as part of the French project on “Human zoos”, nor do they appear at the great Quai de Branly exhibition of 2012.

[4]The Marseille and Paris exhibitions competed with each other. The Festival of Empire was organised in London to celebrate the coronation of George V, thus also being known as the Coronation Exhibition. For more information about these and other British colonial exhibitions, or exhibitions which had important colonial sections, organised between 1890 and 1914, see Coombes (1994: 85–108) and Mackenzie (2008).

[5]These were the Franco-British exhibition (1908) and the Japan-British Exhibition (1910); although their contents were not exclusively colonial these do make up an important part of the exhibitions. They are both private and run by the successful show businessman Imre Kiralfy. For the former, see Coombes (1994: 187–213), Leymarie (2009) and Geppert (2010: 101–133); and for the latter, Mutsu (2001).
[6]This was the International Imperial Exhibition, where the Great Britain, France and Russia took part, although other countries also had a minor presence. It was organized by the businessman Imre Kiralfy.
[7]The exhibition fever of those years even hit Japan, where colonial and anthropological exhibitions were organized in Osaka (1903) and Tokyo (1913). These showed Ainu peoples and persons from the newly incorporated territories of the Japanese Empire (Siddle, 1996; Nanta, 2011).
[8]For a good summary of the extensive colonial propaganda movement which spread around Europe during the interwar period (with detailed references to the exhibitions) see Stanard (2009).
[9]British Empire Exhibition.
[10]After its defeat in the Great War, the 119 Versailles Treaty article specified that Germany should give up all its overseas territories. Therefore, whenever exhibitions were celebrated during the interwar period Germany lacked any possessions whatsoever. Thus, German competitions mentioned (including Vienna) were nothing but mere patriotic exhibitions of colonial revisionism, which were celebrated during the Weimar Republic and reached their heyday in the Nazi era.
[11]This was the Mostra Coloniale Celebrativa della Vittoria Imperiale, a propagandist national-colonial exhibition of a strong rationalist character.
[12]This was the British Empire Exhibition.
[13]This was the grandiose Prima (and unique) mostra triennale delle Terre Italiane d’Oltremare, which was to be celebrated between the 9 of May and the 15 of October 1940, and which was suspended after a month owing to Mussolini’s declaration of war on France and Great Britain. See Kivelitz (1999: 162–171), Abbattista and Labanca (2008), Vargaftig (2010) and, more specifically, Dore (1992).
[14]The available literature on the exhibition of 1931 is very abundant. A very brief selection of titles could include the following: Ageron (1984), Blévis et al. (2008), Exposition Coloniale (2006), Hodeir and Pierre (1991), L’ Estoile (2007), Lebovics (2008) and Morton (2000).
[15]However, the organization of two purely commercial ethnological exhibitions was authorized.
[16]On the Congolese section of the 1958 Brussels exhibition, the works of Cornelis (2005), Halen (1995), and Stanard (2005 and 2011) can be used as references.
[17]The territory of Rwanda-Urundi (former German colony of Rwanda and Burundi) was administered as a trusteeship by Belgium from 1924, on accepting a League of Nations mandate which was renewed through the UN after the end of the Second World War.
[18]For the encounters and disagreements between Christian exhibitions and Universal exhibitions during the nineteenth century, see Sánchez-Gómez (2011).
[19]The New-Zealander (Auckland), 22 October 1851. Available at http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast [accessed 3/April/2009].
[20]This was the Historical Exhibition of Occupation (1937) and the Exhibition of the Portuguese World (1940); For the Catholic Church’s participation in these events, see Sánchez-Gómez (2009).
[21]The presence of natives has not been recorded at Protestant exhibitions celebrated in France, Sweden, Switzerland or Germany during those years.

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Schwarz, Werner M. (2001) Anthropologische Spektakel: Zur Schaustellung “exotischer” Menschen, Wien 1870–1910. Turia und Kant, Vienna.
[Serén, Maria do Carmo] (2001) A Porta do Meio. A Exposição Colonial de 1934. Fotografias da Casa Alvão. Ministério da Cultura, Centro Portugués de Fotografia, Porto.
Siddle, Richard (1996) Race, Resistance and the Ainu of Japan. Routledge, London and New York.
Staehelin, Balthasar (1993) Völkerschauen im Zoologischen Garten Basel 1879–1935. Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel.
Stanard, Matthew G. (2005) “‘Bilan du monde pour un monde plus deshumanisé’: The 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and Belgian perceptions of the Congo”. European History Quarterly, 35 (2): 267–298. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265691405051467
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Wynants, Maurits (1997) Des Ducs de Brabant aux villages Congolais. Tervuren et l’Exposition Coloniale 1897. Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren.
Wyss, Beat (2010) Bilder von der Globalisierung. Die Weltausstellung von Paris 1889, Insel Verlag, Franfurkt.

Voir aussi:

Human zoos: When people were the exhibits
Annika Zeitler
Dw.com
10.03.2017

From the German Empire through the 1930s, humans were locked up and exhibited in zoos. These racist « ethnological expositions » remain a traumatizing experience for Theodor Wonja Michael.

« We went throughout Europe with circuses, and I was always traveling – from Paris to Riga, from Berne to Bucharest via Warsaw, » remembers Theodor Wonja Michael. He is the youngest son of a Cameroonian who left the then German colony at the turn of the century to live in the German Empire.

« We danced and performed along with fire-eaters and fakirs. I began hating taking part in these human zoos very early on, » says the now 92-year-old. For several years, did stopped talking about that period in his life. Then in 2013, Theodor Wonja Michael wrote about his and his family’s story in the book « Deutsch sein und schwarz dazu » (Being German and also Black).

Traveling with a human zoo

Theodor Wonja Michael’s father moved with his family from Cameroon to Europe at the end of the 19th century. In Berlin, he quickly realized that he wouldn’t be allowed to do normal jobs. The only available way of making a living was through ethnological expositions, also called human zoos.

At the time, performers of a human zoo would tour through Europe just like rock bands today. They were scheduled to do several presentations a day while visitors would gawk at them.

« In some cases, the performers had contracts, but they didn’t know what it meant to be part of Europe’s ethnological expositions, » says historian Anne Dreesbach. Most of them were homesick; some died because they didn’t manage to get vaccinated. That’s how an Inuit family, which was part of an exhibition, died of smallpox after shows in Hamburg and Berlin in 1880. Another group of Sioux Indians died of vertigo, measles and pneumonia.

Carl Hagenbeck’s exposition of ‘exotics’

A 1927 photo of Carl Hagenbeck, surrounded by the Somalians he put in a Hamburg zoo

Up until the 1930s, there were some 400 human zoos in Germany.

The first big ethnological exposition was organized in 1874 by a wild animal merchant from Hamburg, Carl Hagenbeck. « He had the idea to open zoos that weren’t only filled with animals, but also people. People were excited to discover humans from abroad: Before television and color photography were available, it was their only way to see them, » explains Anne Dreesbach, who published a book on the history of human zoos in Germany a few year ago.

An illusion of travel

The concept already existed in the early modern age, when European explorers brought back people from the new areas they had traveled to. Carl Hagenbeck took this one step further, staging the exhibitions to make them more attractive: Laplanders would appear accompanied by reindeer, Egyptians would ride camels in front of cardboard pyramids, Fuegians would be living in huts and had bones as accessories in their hair. « Carl Hagenbeck sold visitors an illusion of world travel with his human zoos, » says historian Hilke Thode-Arora from Munich’s ethnological museum.

How Theodor Wonja Michael experienced racism in Germany

« In these ethnological expositions, we embodied Europeans perception of ‘Africans’ in the 1920s and 30s – uneducated savages wearing raffia skirts, » explains Theodor Wonja Michael. He still remembers how strangers would stroke his curled hair: « They would smell me to check if I was real and talked to me in broken German or with signs. »

Hordes of visitors

Theodor Wonja Michael’s family was torn apart after the death of his mother, who was a German seamstress from East Prussia. A court determined that the father couldn’t properly raise his four children, and operators of a human zoo officially became the young Theodor’s foster parents in the 1920s. « Their only interest in us was for our labor, » explains Michael.

All four children were taken on by different operators of ethnological expositions and had to present and sell « a typical African lifestyle » for a curious public, like their father had done previously. For Theodor Wonja Michael, it was torture.

Just like fans want to see stars up close today, visitors at the time wanted to see Fuegians, Eskimos or Samoans. When one group decided to stay hidden in their hut during the last presentation of a day in a Berlin zoo in November 1881, thousands of visitors protested by pushing down fences and walls and destroying banks. « This shows what these expositions subconsciously triggered in people, » says Dreesbach.

Theodor Wonja Michael was nine years old when his father died in 1934, aged 55. He only has very few memories of him left. From his siblings’ stories, he knows that his father worked as an extra on silent films at the beginning of the 1920s. The whole family was brought with him to the studio and also hired as extras because they were viewed as « typically African. »

Several human zoos stopped running after the end of World War I. Hagenbeck organized his last show of « exotic people » in 1931 – but that didn’t end discrimination.

Theodor Wonja Michael’s book is available in German under the title, « Deutsch sein und Schwarz dazu. Erinnerungen eines Afro-Deutschen » (Being German and also Black. Memoires of an Afro-German).

Voir de même:

REVIEW: The Strange Tale of a Coney Island ‘Doctor’ Who Saved 7,000 Babies

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies by Dawn Raffel (Blue Rider Press, 284 pp.)

By Laura Durnell

The National Book Review

8.15. 2018

With a couturier’s skill, Dawn Raffel’s The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies threads facts and education into a dramatic and highly unusual narrative.  The enigmatic showman Martin Couney showcased premature babies in incubators to early 20th century crowds on the Coney Island and Atlantic City boardwalks, and at expositions across the United States. A Prussian-born immigrant based on the East coast, Couney had no medical degree but called himself a physician, and his self-promoting carnival-barking incubator display exhibits actually ended up saving the lives of about 7,000 premature babies. These tiny infants would have died without Couney’s theatrics, but instead they grew into adulthood, had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and lived into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. This extraordinary story reveals a great deal about neonatology, and about life.

Raffel, a journalist, memoirist and short story writer, brings her literary sensibilities and great curiosity, to Couney’s fascinating tale. Drawing on extraordinary archival research as well as interviews, her narrative is enhanced by her own reflections as she balanced her shock over how Couney saved these premature infants and also managed to make a living by displaying them like little freaks to the vast crowds who came to see them. Couney’s work with premature infants began in Europe as a carnival barker at an incubator exposition. It was there he fell in love with preemies and met his head nurse Louise Recht. Still, even allowing for his evident affection, making the preemies incubation a public show seems exploitative.

But was it? In the 21st century, hospital incubators and NICUs are taken for granted, but over a hundred years ago, incubators were rarely used in hospitals, and sometimes they did far more harm than good.  Premature infants often went blind because of too much oxygen pumped into the incubators (Raffel notes that Stevie Wonder, himself a preemie, lost his sight this way). Yet the preemies Couney and his nurses — his wife Maye, his daughter Hildegard, and lead nurse Louise, known in the show as “Madame Recht” — cared for retained their vision. The reason? Couney was worried enough about this problem to use incubators developed by M. Alexandre Lion in France, which regulated oxygen flow.

Today it is widely accept that every baby – premature or ones born to term – should be saved.  Not so in Couney’s time. Preemies were referred to as “weaklings,” and even some doctors believed their lives were not worth saving. While Raffel’s tale is inspiring, it is also horrific. She does not shy away from people like Dr. Harry Haiselden who, unlike Couney, was an actual M.D., but “denied lifesaving treatment to infants he deemed ‘defective,’ deliberately watching them die even when they could have lived.”

Haiselden’s behavior and philosophy did not develop in a vacuum. Nazi Germany’s shadow looms large in Raffel’s book. Just as they did with America’s Jim Crow laws, Raffel acknowledges the Nazis took America’s late nineteenth and early twentieth century fascination with eugenics and applied it to monstrous ends in the T4 euthanasia program and the Holocaust. To better understand Haiselden’s attitude, Raffel explains the role eugenics played throughout Couney’s lifetime. She dispassionately explains the theory of eugenics, how its propaganda worked and how belief in eugenics manifested itself in 20th century America.

Ultimately, Couney’s compassion, advocacy, resilience, and careful maintenance of his self-created narrative to the public rose above this ignorant cruelty. True, he was a showman, and during most of his career, he earned a good living from his incubator babies show, but Couney, an elegant man who fluently spoke German, French and English, didn’t exploit his preemies (Hildegard was a preemie too).  He gave them a chance at the lives they might not have been allowed to live. Couney used his showmanship to support all of this life-saving. He put on shows for boardwalk crowds, but he also, despite not having a medical degree, maintained his incubators according to high medical standards.

In many ways, Couney’s practices were incredibly advanced. Babies were fed with breast milk exclusively, nurses provided loving touches frequently, and the babies were held, changed and bathed. “Every two hours, those who could suckle were carried upstairs on a tiny elevator and fed by breast by wet nurses who lived in the building,” Raffel writes.  “The rest got the funneled spoon.”

Yet the efforts of Dr. Couney’s his nurses went largely ignored by the medical profession and were only mentioned once in a medical journal. As Raffel writes in her book’s final page, “There is nothing at his  grave to indicate that [Martin Couney] did anything of note.” The same goes for Maye, Louise and Hildegard. Louise’s name was misspelled on her shared tombstone (Louise’s remains are interred in another family’s crypt), and Hildegard, whose remains are interred with Louise’s, did not even have her own name engraved on the shared tombstone.

With the exception of Chicago’s Dr. Julius Hess, who is considered the father of neonatology, the majority of the medical establishment patronized and excluded Couney. Hess, though, respected Couney’s work and built on it with his own scientific approach and research; in the preface to his book Premature and Congenitally Diseased Infants, Hess acknowledges Couney “‘for his many helpful suggestions in the preparation of the material for this book.’” But Couney cared more about the babies than professional respect. His was a single-minded focus: even when it financially devastated him to do so, he persisted, so his preemies could live.

A Talmud verse Raffel cites early in her book sums up Martin Couney: “If one saves a single life, it is as if one has saved the world.” The Strange Case of Dr. Couney gives Couney his due as a remarkable human being who used his promotional ability for the betterment of premature infants, and for, 7,000 times over, saving the world.


Laura Durnell’s work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Room, The Antigonish Review, Women’s Media Center, Garnet News, others. She currently teaches at DePaul University, tutors at Wilbur Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and is working on her first novel. Twitter handle:  @lauradurnell

Voir par ailleurs:

On te manipule

Une Théorie du complot, c’est quoi ?

Youtubeur cagoulé Une théorie du complot (on parle aussi de conspirationnisme ou de complotisme) est un récit pseudo-scientifique, interprétant des faits réels comme étant le résultat de l’action d’un groupe caché, qui agirait secrètement et illégalement pour modifier le cours des événements en sa faveur, et au détriment de l’intérêt public. Incapable de faire la démonstration rigoureuse de ce qu’elle avance, la théorie du complot accuse ceux qui la remettent en cause d’être les complices de ce groupe caché. Elle contribue à semer la confusion, la désinformation, et la haine contre les individus ou groupes d’individus qu’elle stigmatise.Les 7 commandements de la théorie du complot

1. Derrière chaque événement un organisateur caché tu inventeras

Bureau national des complotsDerrière chaque actualité ayant des causes accidentelles ou naturelles (mort ou suicide d’une personnalité, crash d’avion, catastrophe naturelle, crise économique…), la théorie du complot cherche un ou des organisateurs secrets (gouvernement, communauté juive, francs-maçons…) qui auraient manipulé les événements dans l’ombre pour servir leurs intérêts : l’explication rationnelle ne suffit jamais. Et même si les événements ont une cause intentionnelle et des acteurs évidents (attentat, assassinat, révolution, guerre, coup d’État…), la théorie du complot va chercher à démontrer que cela a en réalité profité à un AUTRE groupe caché. C’est la méthode du bouc émissaire.

2. Des signes du complot partout tu verras

Signe du complot La théorie du complot voit les indices de celui-ci partout où vous ne les voyez pas, comme si les comploteurs laissaient volontairement des traces, visibles des seuls « initiés ». Messages cachés sur des paquets de cigarettes, visage du diable aperçu dans la fumée du World Trade Center, parcours de la manifestation Charlie Hebdo qui dessinerait la carte d’Israël… Tout devient prétexte à interprétation, sans preuve autre que l’imagination de celui qui croit découvrir ces symboles cachés. Comme le disait une série célèbre : « I want to believe ! »

3. L’esprit critique tu auras… mais pas pour tout

La théorie du complot a le doute sélectif : elle critique systématiquement l’information émanant des autorités publiques ou scientifiques, tout en s’appuyant sur des certitudes ou des paroles « d’experts » qu’elle refuse de questionner. De même, pour expliquer un événement, elle monte en épingle des éléments secondaires en leur conférant une importance qu’ils n’ont pas, tout en écartant les éléments susceptibles de contrarier la thèse du complot. Son doute est à géométrie variable.

4. Le vrai et le faux tu mélangeras

Affiche "i want to believe"La théorie du complot tend à mélanger des faits et des spéculations sans distinguer entre les deux. Dans les « explications » qu’elle apporte aux événements, des éléments parfaitement avérés sont noués avec des éléments inexacts ou non vérifiés, invérifiables, voire carrément mensongers. Mais le fait qu’une argumentation ait des parties exactes n’a jamais suffi à la rendre dans son ensemble exacte !

5. Le « millefeuille argumentatif » tu pratiqueras

C’est une technique rhétorique qui vise à intimider celui qui y est confronté : il s’agit de le submerger par une série d’arguments empruntés à des champs très diversifiés de la connaissance, pour remplacer la qualité de l’argumentation par la quantité des (fausses) preuves. Histoire, géopolitique, physique, biologie… toutes les sciences sont convoquées – bien entendu, jamais de façon rigoureuse. Il s’agit de créer l’impression que, parmi tous les arguments avancés, « tout ne peut pas être faux », qu’ »il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu ».

6. La charge de la preuve tu inverseras

ILivre sur "la vérité"ncapables (et pour cause !) d’apporter la preuve définitive de ce qu’elle avance, la théorie du complot renverse la situation, en exigeant de ceux qui ne la partagent pas de prouver qu’ils ont raison. Mais comment démontrer que quelque chose qui n’existe pas… n’existe pas ? Un peu comme si on vous demandait de prouver que le Père Noël n’est pas réel.

7. La cohérence tu oublieras

A force de multiplier les procédés expliqués ci-dessus, les théories du complot peuvent être totalement incohérentes, recourant à des arguments qui ne peuvent tenir ensemble dans un même cadre logique, qui s’excluent mutuellement. Au fond, une seule chose importe : répéter, faute de pouvoir le démontrer, qu’on nous ment, qu’on nous cache quelque chose. #OnTeManipule !

Voir enfin:

« Le clip de Nick Conrad illustre la montée de la haine raciale en France »
Céline Pina
Le Figaro
28/09/2018

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – Réagissant au clip du rappeur Nick Conrad appelant à massacrer des «Blancs», Céline Pina assure que cet épisode n’est que la partie visible d’une idéologie raciste de plus en plus violente, prenant les «Blancs» pour cible.

Ancienne élue locale, Céline Pina est essayiste et militante. Elle avait dénoncé en 2015 le salon de «la femme musulmane» de Pontoise et a récemment publié Silence Coupable (éd. Kero, 2016). Avec Fatiha Boutjalhat, elle est la fondatrice de Viv(r)e la République, mouvement citoyen laïque et républicain, appelant à lutter contre tous les totalitarismes et pour la promotion de l’indispensable universalité des valeurs républicaines.


«Je rentre dans des crèches, je tue des bébés blancs,

attrapez-les vite et pendez leurs parents

Écartelez-les pour passer le temps

Divertir les enfants noirs de tout âge, petits et grands.

Fouettez-les fort, faites-le franchement,

Que ça pue la mort, que ça pisse le sang»

Si vous pensez que l’État islamique donne maintenant ses ordres en rimes laborieuses ou que la nouvelle mode est de semer la haine et de lancer des appels au meurtre en chanson, c’est, d’après l’auteur de ce texte, que vous êtes plein de préjugés racistes. Certes tuer des enfants dans les écoles ou les crèches est bien un mot d’ordre que les terroristes islamistes ont lancé, certes le clip de ce rappeur appelle au meurtre de masse des Blancs, mais, selon ses défenseurs, il s’agit d’Art, de création, d’amour incompris. En fait, être choqués par ces paroles, témoignerait d’un refus collectif de prendre conscience de nos fautes et de celles de nos pères et serait un effet de notre racisme ontologique puisque le rappeur explique avoir voulu «inverser les rôles, (…) le système, de manière à ce que Blancs comme noirs puissent se rendre compte de la situation.». Son clip serait «une fiction qui montre des choses qui sont vraiment arrivées au peuple noir.». Rappelons qu’il s’agit ici de montrer des actes de torture, d’humiliation puis l’exécution d’un homme blanc, le tout filmé avec une jouissance sadique.

Au regard de la ligne de défense du rappeur on peut constater d’abord que s’il chante la haine, c’est qu’il la porte en lui. Il la légitime d’ailleurs par l’histoire. Dans son imaginaire et sa représentation du monde, tuer des «blancs» est une œuvre de justice pour un «noir» puisqu’il ne ferait que remettre les compteurs de l’histoire à zéro et venger les souffrances de son peuple, victime de l’esclavage. Sauf que pour raisonner ainsi il faut être profondément inculte et ne pas craindre la falsification historique. L’historien Olivier Petré-Grenouilleau a travaillé sur l’histoire des traites négrières. À l’époque il fut violemment attaqué car son travail déconstruisait un discours idéologique visant à réduire l’esclavage à la seule histoire de l’oppression de l’homme blanc sur l’homme noir. Or la réalité est bien plus diverse. Il y eut trois types de traite: la traite africaine, celle où des noirs capturaient et vendaient des esclaves noirs, on estime cette traite à 14 millions de personnes déportées. La traite arabo-musulmane où les marchands arabes capturaient et vendaient des esclaves noirs, celle-ci a concerné 17 millions d’individus et avait une particularité notable, la castration systématique de tous les hommes. Enfin la traite transatlantique, celle des «blancs», qui a concerné 11 millions d’individus.

Au vu de ce triste constat, nul ne peut pavoiser. Aucune couleur de peau ne peut revendiquer un quelconque avantage moral sur l’autre. En revanche, ce sont les Européens qui ont aboli les premiers l’esclavage, à l’issue d’un travail intellectuel et politique amorcé durant Les Lumières, qui changèrent la conception de l’homme et de la société. Grâce au concept d’égale dignité de l’être humain, il devenait impossible pour un homme d’en posséder un autre. Cette idée d’égalité est une construction, une représentation, une vision de l’homme et du monde qui rendit l’esclavage illégitime. En Europe, cette situation perdure car elle est liée à une perception du monde sur laquelle nous nous efforçons d’appuyer nos lois et nos mœurs. En Afrique et en Orient, l’esclavage existe encore (souvenez-vous des images du marché d’esclaves en Libye) et le combat pour l’abolir complètement est très discret, alors que la mémoire de l’esclavage, en Occident, finie par être instrumentalisée à des fins politiques douteuses. L’esclavage n’intéresse les idéologues gauchistes que pour faire le procès du blanc et justifier tous les passages à l’acte. Ce qui ne sert ni la connaissance historique, ni la lutte contre les discriminations.

Quant à l’excuse par l’art, mobilisée pour donner un boulevard à la haine et censurer ceux qui s’en indignent, elle a pour corollaire le droit de juger et de rejeter du spectateur. Elle a également pour limite l’appel au meurtre. Souvenez-vous de la radio Mille collines au Rwanda. Un bien joli nom pour une entreprise génocidaire. A coup d’appels enflammés et de texte haineux auquel celui-ci n’a rien à envier, elle sema sciemment la détestation et la mort. Et elle fut entendue. Largement.

C’est ce que fait à son niveau ce rappeur. Car son délire ne lui appartient pas en propre. Il relaie une logique, un discours de haine et un projet politique qui a été forgé d’abord aux États-Unis et qui revient ici porté par le PIR (Parti des Indigènes de la République), par l’extrême-gauche et par leurs alliés islamistes. Ce discours de haine raciale est légitimé et s’installe dans nos représentations car cette idéologie trouve des relais politiques et intellectuels. Elle se développe même au sein des universités à travers l’imposture du champ des études post-coloniales, où l’on préfère souvent former des activistes politiques, plutôt que s’astreindre à l’aride rigueur de la démarche scientifique. Ce discours est porté politiquement dans les banlieues où il construit les représentations des jeunes, il est accueilli dans les médias mainstream où les lectures raciales de la société se développent de plus en plus. Cette dérive violente est nourrie par un travail politique mené par des forces identifiables et il porte ses fruits: oui, il y a bien un racisme «anti-blancs» qui se développe dans les banlieues. Oui, on peut se faire agresser pour le seul crime d’être «blanc». Oui, la montée de la haine raciale aujourd’hui participe aux passages à l’acte et à l’explosion de la soi-disant violence gratuite.

Mais cela, une partie du système médiatique le nie, participant aussi à la légitimation de ceux qui font monter les tensions raciales. Imaginons juste qu’un chanteur ait chanté les mêmes horreurs à propos des noirs. Croyez-vous que la presse lui aurait ouvert ses colonnes pour qu’il se justifie? N’eût-il été immédiatement mis au ban par ses pairs? Quand les bien-pensants réclament qu’Eric Zemmour soit interdit d’antenne, alors que sa sortie ridicule n’a rien à voir de près ni de loin avec un appel au meurtre, ils sont curieusement muets quand il s’agit d’un rappeur pourtant indéfendable sur le fond et qui, lui, lance des appels à la haine.

Pire encore, pour ne pas avoir à se positionner sur des sujets épineux, ils vont jusqu’à nier la réalité. C’est Dominique Sopo, président de SOS Racisme, qui refuse de voir monter la haine raciale érigée en posture politique et estime que le racisme anti-blanc n’est qu’une invention de l’extrême-droite. Même son de cloche chez le député France insoumise Eric Cocquerel. En cela, la justification du rappeur qui prétend «inverser», mettre le blanc à la place du noir et évoque un clip copié sur le passage d’un film américain où deux membres du Klu Klux Klan font subir les mêmes atrocités à un homme noir, est calibrée pour fermer la bouche à ceux qui confondent gauche et repentance. Et cela marche. Pourtant le raisonnement sous-tendu par cette référence est stupide: les membres du KKK appartiennent à une idéologie particulière. Ils ne sont pas des références, ni des modèles, encore moins des exemples. Ils font honte à leurs concitoyens et leurs idées politiques sont combattues et rejetées. Ils ne représentent pas les «blancs». Leur donner une telle portée symbolique, c’est un peu comme confondre nazi et allemand ou islamistes et musulmans.

Quant à l’ultime provocation du rappeur, le fait que d’après lui, si on creuse un peu, derrière le couplet «pendez les blancs», c’est de l’amour que l’on entend, nous avons déjà eu droit à ce salmigondis stupide quand Houria Bouteldja a tenté de défendre son livre raciste: «les Blancs, les Juifs et nous». Et s’il fallait une preuve de ce que ce rappeur pense vraiment, la phrase de Malcom X qui clôt son clip nous le rappelle: «Le prix pour faire que les autres respectent vos droits humains est la mort.». Une phrase qui ne peut être entendue par les jeunes que comme un appel au meurtre dans le contexte du clip. Pire, même, qui voit dans le fait de donner la mort, la marque de ceux qui savent se faire respecter. Phrase toute aussi terrible et impressionnante que fausse: le prix pour faire que les autres respectent vos droits est la reconnaissance de l’égale dignité des êtres humains, la fraternité qui naît du partage de cette condition humaine et les devoirs qu’elle nous donne les uns envers les autres. Et la couleur de la peau n’a aucune importance dans cette histoire-là.

2 Responses to « Zoos humains »: Arte invente la théorie du complot pour tous (It’s domination and racism, stupid ! – From commercial ethnological to colonial and missionary exhibitions, looking back at the very problematic indiscriminate use of the concept of the “human zoo”)

  1. Matt dit :

    Pascal Blanchard est aussi le directeur d’une agence de communication historique qui compte pour clients la quasi-totalité de l’oligarchie française.
    « On », « La France »… Dans « Zoos humains », hormis le cas d’un forain organisateur de spectacles, Blanchard ne cite pas une seule fois le nom des entreprises et des hommes qui ont organisé la colonisation. Pour Blanchard, le coupable, c’est le gène du colonisateur blanc et tout le peuple français atteint de racisme aggravé !
    Le peuple français envoyé dans les mines et les usines infernales fut lui aussi réduit à l’esclavage par les décideurs de la révolution industrielle.
    Sous prétexte de lutte contre le racisme, c’est de la haine qui est fabriquée. Il suffit de voir sur les réseaux sociaux comment des quantités d’africains ou d’afro-descendants s’approprient cette production historique pour cracher leur haine du blanc !
    Comment ne pas devenir suspicieux et penser qu’en réalité les gouvernants craignent le rapprochement des peuples et cherchent à l’empêcher…

    Aimé par 1 personne

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