Théodore Bray, 'Een plantagedirecteur met huismeid en huisjongen,' Suriname, 1840 - 1850. TM-3444-5.
31 January 2019

Circulating Race: Colonialism, Slavery and the Visual Economy

SEMINAR | 31 January 2019 | 20:00 - 22:00 | Impacthub

If slavery and colonialism were to have created a hierarchy of the human – the colonizer and the colonized – then images were to sustain such hierarchies. Indeed, Europe’s imperial formation relied not solely on excessive power or violence, but also on a visual economy that envisioned and materialised colonial structures and its racialized hierarchies. By the late 19th century, photographs, paintings, prints, drawings and other imagery of demeaned or racialized subjects were being circulated not only within the empires themselves, but across the porous borders of imperial geographies. What might have emerged in France or the United States, for example, would soon be taken up in the Netherlands or in the United Kingdom. It is not for nothing that modernism's fascination with black bodies in visual art or theatre might have emerged in one region but not long after would be taken up in another. And, indeed, the minstrelsy plays, for example, in the US South had an effect on similar performances in Paris or Amsterdam. 

This event addresses how racializing and discriminatory imagery in the colonial period travelled in, between and across the different spaces of empire. As such images travelled to different regions how were they received, integrated in local discourse or visual practices, transformed or challenged?  What are the enduring effects of such travelling racialized imagery on formerly colonized people in the present?

Image: Théodore Bray, 'Een plantagedirecteur met huismeid en huisjongen,' Suriname, 1840 - 1850. TM-3444-5.

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More photographs of the event © SHOT BY MARV (Marvin Duiker) can be found on our Facebook