02-19-2017  6:08 pm      •     
McMenamins

PARIS (AP) -- It's a queasy experience, viewing chained tribal dancers do a white man's bidding, or African women stripped and photographed to feed European curiosity.

Until just a few generations ago, this is how most white people learned about those with skin of a different shade. A new Paris exhibit examines how for centuries, colonizers plucked villagers from Africa, the Americas or the South Pacific and put them on display half a world away. The demeaning tradition shaped racist attitudes that linger today.

Curator Lilian Thuram, a former soccer star and now anti-racism advocate, hopes the exhibit at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris makes people question deep-held beliefs about the "other."

"You have to have the courage to say that each of us has prejudices, and these prejudices have a history," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Thuram is an ideal public face for this unusual exhibit. A pensive black man with a ready smile, he has suffered racist insults on and off the field.

It's a delicate undertaking for a museum: exhibiting offensive images without glorifying them, urging visitors to look closer and be repulsed.

Scientific curator Nanette Jacomijn Snoep said the exhibit isn't about blaming viewers of the past for their curiosity.

"For the visitors of this era, it was a way ... to see what was happening elsewhere in the world. Except that visitors weren't totally aware that was a spectacle, that it was a fabricated difference," fabricated to make the viewer feel superior, she said in an interview.

Many of the subjects of this colonial cruelty remain nameless, and forgotten to history. "Zulu Mealtime" one photo reads. "Bushmen." "Indian Chief." "Negro Head." An old film reel shows a Frenchman peppering commands at two dark-skinned dancers in headdress so cumbersome their faces are barely visible.

But some have been identified, including the great-grandparents of Thuram's 1998 World cup teammate Christian Karembeu, shipped to Paris from the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia and exhibited as "cannibals."

The Quai Branly exhibit includes a projected silhouette of South African Saartje Baartman, known to 19th-century viewers as the Hottentot Venus, and a naked, backside-only photograph of another African woman with similarly generous buttocks.

Just when you think the exhibit is all about the past, a familiar venue jumps out: New York's Coney Island features in an old "freak show" poster. Zulus were put on display at Buckingham Palace. Paris' Jardin d'Acclimatation, today one of the French capital's most popular amusement parks, once hosted human "zoos."

Such displays bolstered 19th-century scientists who sought to prove that different races were biologically distinct - and whites biologically superior.

"There is only one species of homo sapiens," Thuram said, standing defiantly in front of a metallic contraption once used to measure skulls. It resembles a torture device or mutant sextant, and is accompanied by sculpted busts meant to illustrate racial distinctions.

"This 'scientific racism' was introduced to the population. Visitors of the time could come to the Jardin d'Acclimatation and see people from Asia, Africa, Oceania behind an enclosure, and they were presented as savages," Thuram said. "You can see that there is a history, and unfortunately today we have the consequences of this history."

Recent comments by the president of soccer's world governing body and an ex-caddy for Tiger Woods exposed outdated views toward racism that continue to pervade modern life. France itself struggles daily with racism toward immigrants from former colonies, stretching from stadium violence to the unfounded fear among some that Muslims intend to supplant French culture with Islamic traditions.

Like much at the Quai Branly Museum - a spacious modern venue at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, former President Jacques Chirac's ode to colonized cultures - this exhibit is under-lit. The somber atmosphere augments the feeling that this part of history was anything but enlightened.

It elicits questions about disability and disease and how entertainers profited from them, exhibiting families with overwhelming facial hair, humans exceptionally tall or exceptionally tiny. These questions remain largely unanswered by a show that focuses instead on the racist aspect of putting other humans on display.

An audioguide is strongly recommended to give the exhibit the necessary context. The guides are available in English and German, and there is an English translation of some explanatory panels but not of each item displayed.

A triptych of funhouse mirrors and a video projection at the end of the labyrinthine exhibit offer moments to reflect. How tolerant are you? How do you feel watching two men in the video kissing? A white woman and black woman holding hands? A Muslim man praying?

The exhibit opens Tuesday and runs through June 3.

---

http://www.quaibranly.fr/en

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all