Exhibition "Human Zoos – The invention of the Savage"

Uppsala, spring 2023

In the spring of 2023, Forum for Africa Studies will in cooperation with Fredens Hus host the Swedish version of the exhibition Human Zoos – The invention of the Savage, initially curated by Fondation Thuram: Eduation Against Racism, and Achac Research Group.

"I have understood that racism is, above all, an intellectual construction," says Lilian Thuram, co-curator of the exhibition Human Zoos – The Invention of the Savage and a Guadaloupe-born footballer who was one of the heroes of France's World Cup and Euro victories in 1998 and 2000.

This exhibition tells the story of women, men and children from Asia, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and in some cases from Europe who were displayed in the West and elsewhere at universal and colonial exhibitions and fairs, in circuses, cabarets, and zoos, as well as in traveling “exotic” villages. For almost five centuries (1490-1960) these people were exhibited as “savages” in Europe, the United States and Japan. These large-scale exhibitions of human beings were specific to the West and to colonial powers and served to reaffirm a hierarchy between people according to skin color, the legacy of which can still be felt today.

The Achac Research Group and the Lilian Thuram Foundation have conceived of this exhibition in such a way as to explain the origins of prejudice. The past must be deconstructed and understood so that a human being’s skin color and culture no longer serve as a pretext for rejection or discrimination.

Within Forum for Africa Studies Senior Lecturer Dr. Véronique Simon the Chair of Forum for Africa Studies coordinates the project.