Visualizing Empire. Africa, Europe, and the politics of representation (Getty Research Institute, 2021) est un ouvrage collectif et véritablement transdisciplinaire, qui vise à comprendre comment les arts visuels ont légitimé la colonisation et ont participé à la glorification de la France comme nation impérialiste. Les recherches ont été dirigées par Rebecca Peabody, responsable des projets et des programmes de recherche au Getty Research Institute, Steven Nelson, doyen du Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts de la National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.) et professeur émérite d'histoire de l'art africain et africain-américain à l'Université de Californie (Los Angeles), et Dominic Thomas, directeur du département des langues européennes et des études transculturelles à l'Université de Californie (Los Angeles). Pascal Blanchard, historien et co-directeur du Groupe de recherche Achac a contribué à l’ouvrage avec l’article “Documententing (Post)Colonial Visual Histories: The Global Impact”, qu’il a co-écrit avec Dominic Thomas.
In the mid-nineteenth century, when few Europeans had traveled overseas, anyone with a shilling or a franc could step into the cultures of other continents in their nation’s empire, at the London Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851) or in Paris at the Exposition Universelle (1855), where exhibits and other materials glorified and promoted the benefits of their empires. In the decades that followed, as the French Empire rapidly expanded, world’s fairs increasingly focused on the colonies and displayed economic and social concerns, products, and overseas infrastructure, as well as eugenics and racial violence in pavilions populated by flora, fauna, and, eventually, people. France’s colonial expansion and dissemination of propaganda were similar to those of Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, and Great Britain. By the end of World War I, France had entered what French historian Jean Suret-Canale has called the “golden age of colonialism”, having fortified their colonial holdings in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Asia, the French could rightly claim to have expanded their dominion to the four corners of the earth.
This point was celebrated in the summer of 1931 at the Paris Exposition Coloniale Internationale. In that world’s fair, imperialism was not a subtheme, but rather the explicit purpose; visitors could, as the government’s slogan advertised, have a “tour of the world in a day” touching down on continents and oceans that represented the breadth of France Overseas. The essays in this volume focus on the role of visual culture in these processes of national self-construction, using a collection of materials held in the Getty Research Institute (GRI) acquired from the Paris-based Achac Research Group archives. With contributions by art historians, curators, literary scholars, and historians - Pascal Blanchard, Peter J. Bloom, Michelle H. Craig, Charles Forsdick, Patricia A. Morton, David Murphy, Steven Nelson, Rebecca Peabody, Lauren Taylor, Frances Terpak, and Dominic Thomas - Visualizing Empire is a truly transdisciplinary work that aims to improve our contextualization and understanding as to how an official French visual culture served to display, define, and represent their empire, thereby normalizing the country’s colonial project and exposing citizens and subjects alike to racialized ideas of life in the empire. Contributors demonstrate how these archival holdings can be instrumentalized in order to foster broad interdisciplinary research.
1 Introduction: Visualizing Empire
REBECCA PEABODY, STEVEN NELSON, DOMINIC THOMAS
10 French Colonial Collections at the Getty Research Institute
16 Documenting (Post)Colonial Visual Histories: The Global Impact
of the Achac Research Group
PASCAL BLANCHARD, DOMINIC THOMAS
33 Decolonizing the ACHAC Collection
PATRICIA A. MORTON
50 Fragments of Empire: Ephemera, Toys, and the Dynamics of Colonial Memory
68 Intersecting Legacies of bande dessinées and Belgian Colonial Instruction Les aventures de Mbumbulu in Nos images (1948-55)
PETER J. BLOOM
85 French Colonialism: the Rules of the Game
97 Envisionning the Desert: The Sahara and French Colonial Visual Culture
MICHELLE H. CRAIG
118 Representations of the tirailleur sénégalais and World War I
136 On Posters and Postures: Colonial Enlistment Posters and the Nationalist Imagination in France
155 La France et ses colonies: Mapping, Representing and Visualizing Empire
179 Selected Bibliography
182 Biographical Notes on the Contributors
184 Illustration Credits
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