–  November 25, 2016 – initial paper proposals

– February 28, 2017 – abstracts and full paper proposals

– March 31, 2017 – notification of successful applicants

– June 1, 2017 – preliminary programme of the conference


Prof. Pascal Blanchard, CNRS, Paris, France,

Aux origines des zoos humaines (keynote speech)


Andrea Zittlau

Andrea Zittlau is assistant professor at the department of North American Studies at the University of Rostock. Her work looks at structures of normativity and possibilities to queer those structures. She has published numerous articles and two books Exploring the Cultural History of Continental European Freak Shows (together with Anna Kerchy, 2012) and Curious Exotica (2016) that explore the display of othered bodies. Her current work looks at performance art and its dynamics to reveal and twist dominant discourses with a continuous focus on absence and the invisible.

Unasked Questions. De-Americanizing Freakery

The study of the exhibition of the othered body in so-called freak shows and on other occasions contributed significantly to the field of Disability Studies particularly in the United States. Scholars such as Rachel Adams (Sideshow U.S.A., 2001) and Rosemarie Garland Thompson (ed. Freakery, 1996) discussed the phenomenon of the exhibition of the non-normative body as a symptom of nineteenth-century American capitalism and its entertainment industry. Thus, the sideshow became a crucial element in the explanation of American nation building.

However, the practice of staging otherness has never been unique to the United States. In fact, Central and Eastern Europe has its own long and vivid history of ethnic and freak shows that call for a different model of explanation. Discussions of these shows in different geographical (political and economic) contexts will give a set of different answers to the same questions (that have been posed by U.S. scholars).

Nevertheless, I am particularly intrigued to use the historical phenomenon of displaying othered people in order to find a set of questions that have not yet been provoked by the profound discourse of individualism as suggested by the American discussion. Departing from current cultural criticism that involves biopolitics, decolonial attitudes and the queer body as posed by Margrit Shildrick, Jasbir Puar and others, I will map different possibilities of understanding Enfreakments.


Prof. Natascha Meuser

Hochschule Anhalt, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Dessau-Roßlau

From Colonialism to Democracy. The Evolution of Architectural History in Zoos


The architectural history of zoos is a reflection of Western humanity’s relationship with animals. Christian values, academic emancipation and political power are key factors in this. Developments always crystallized in the form and reform of architecture. In common with general notions of appealing architecture, humanity’s relationship with architecture and

animals also changed. Therefore, the respective understanding of what an architecture accepted by society – and thus considered appropriate – constitutes for zoological gardens was permanently subject to change.

The zoo evolved from a collection of living trophies and a museum with live exhibits to an amusement park with a moral duty. To date, five generations of zoo buildings may be identified which are based on a temporal chronology and illustrate the ever-changing perception held by humans regarding wildlife – from a mere showpiece to an entity with rights.

The individual periods of time reflect political, zoological and design aspects. Although the first three generations of zoo architecture may be clearly assigned to the fields of politics

(I: Buildings in the Colonial Style), zoology (II: Barless Structures) and design (III: Functionalist Buildings of the Modern Era), politics and zoology are intertwined in the fourth generation (IV: Land Recultivation and Landscaping). In contrast, the fifth and thus youngest generation combines the aspects of design and zoology (V: Branding through Large-scale Constructions).


Any such systematisation in terms of built architecture in zoological gardens has not yet been elaborated, although the history of the zoo has been described countless times in the meantime. Consequently, it is risky to refer to a historic evolution of a building type and its appearance. Nonetheless, this historical overview allows for an understanding of the

development of building forms and spatial concepts prevailing today. It is illustrated how modern the structures in zoological gardens were during their respective periods, although

a complete account of the architectural history of the zoo has been omitted in this research.


Dr Ilze Boldane-Zelenkova, Latvian University, Riga, Latvia,

Staging otherness in Latvia: first steps in the field.

Staging otherness in Latvia: first steps in the field

From the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century, a form of public spectacles / exhibitions in which the objects of staging were humans gained wide popularity not only in colonial states in America and Western Europe but all over the world. ‘Otherness’ by emphasizing socio-cultural and physical differences were exhibiting in those expositions. Latvia, which until 1918 was part of the Tsarist Russian empire, was not the exception and its most important city Riga was visited by circus troupe whose performances also included staging freak people, as well as traveling ethnographic spectacles (such as the African Amazons – the Dahomeyan women (1889), “Kunningham Negro Troupe” (1895), “Arbasha Negro caravan” (1889) from Guinea etc.)

Human showcases, ethnographic shows and other ways of exhibiting otherness taken place on territory of Latvia has not been studied yet  in Latvian historiography.  So the first task – using written sources – local Russian, German and Latvian press – would be: 1) shaping a chronological frames of the events, 2) mapping those expositions, 3) identification of the troupes and 4) studying public’s reaction to the issue.



Dr Svetlana Goshenina

Lausanne, Switzerland

International Exhibition or Local Museum: on the way the Russian Colonial Administration appropriated the Past of the Other

The need and utility to show its new colonial possessions within international and national exhibitions were recognized by the Russian colonial administration immediately after the Turkestan general-governorship was created in 1867. However, the mechanism of preparation of these very costly events – at the level of gathering and preparation of the collections, of involved human resources, and transformation of public opinion about material cultural heritage – raised also the question whether Russian Empire was obliged to establish museums in the conquered territories in order to introduce Civilisation in Central Asia and strengthen a Russian civic consciousness (grazhdanstvennost’). My paper will focus on the comparison of the two strategies of visual representations of the Russian Turkestan that the agents of the colonial administration developed, in order to demonstrate which were the various methods used in the appropriation of the past of the “other” in the colonial context of the Russian Empire.


Anssi Halmesvirta,

Prof. Jyvaskyla University, Finland

Lapps as Exotic Others in Hamburg Tierpark
Abstract: In this paper I’ll discuss how the Lapps (the Sami) were put on show in Hamburg, in the Carl Hagenbeck’s Tierpark in the end of the 19th century. With methods of intellectual history, I’ll expose the pseudo-scientific evaluations as well as popular notions about the ‘exotic, quixotic’ Other vis-à-vis the We (the Germans as ‘civilized’ onlookers and evaluators). In particular, I’ll analyze the impact and purport of the curious gaze (cf. Foucault’s medical gaze) directed at the bodies of the Lapps and overall scene of ‘Lapp life’ and paraphernalia in general connected to it. The research material consists of the exhibition material, publications (books, magazines, newspapers, posters etc.) and pictorial materials depicting the Lapps in various ways (racial classification, stereotyping, gesticulation, ‘deep’ gaze, humorous comment, picturesque etc.).


Filip Herza, Mgr.

Charles University in Prague


Na Florenci 3, Prague 1, Czech republic


Fabricating a Lilliputian

Freak shows and entertainment culture in Prague from 1860s to 1920s


During the last twenty years, scholars from various disciplines offered a critical insight into the cultural work of the 19th/20th-century freak shows. Conceptualized as institutions which produced complex representations of “the Other”, these exhibitions were studied in their relation to the contemporary ideologies of beauty, health and productivity – a matrix some scholars term dis/ability – which underpinned the contemporary national and/or imperial/colonial projects. If there is smt. To be criticized on this rich and exciting body of literature, it is on one hand its predominant focus on the US and British context, and on the other the rather ahistorical treatment of freak show as a timeless cultural institution. The following presentation aims to enrich the existing research on freakery by including the East-Central European context and by historicizing freak show as part of the changing terrain of the 19th/20th-century entertainment industry.

Based on an intense research into the local history of freak show in the city of Prague, the presentation investigates how the emergence of the mass entertainment culture in the last decades of the 19th century and the subsequent changes before and after WWI transformed the already existing culture of exhibiting “abnormities” by gradual professionalization and internationalization of the business. The proposed presentation describes the ways in which these transformations affected the strategies of representation used for presenting “human oddities”, asks about the social composition of its audience and about the ways freaks were “consumed” and interpreted in the local context of Prague between 1860s-1920s.



Prof. Bożidar Jezernik, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia,

Anthropological Presentations in Museums Established in German Concentration Camps (Dachau, Gusen, Auschwitz,Buchenwald) during the Second World War.


Staging the Other in extremis


It is the ideological incompatibility of the concentration camp and the museum which makes us think of them as unlikely bedfellows. In our mind, the concentration camp, as the very emblem for the system of barbarous terror, symbolises precisely those attributes to which the museum was conceived as an antidote. Yet, in major concentration camps established under SS control, museums were set up with the aim of collecting exhibits and displaying them within a Rassenkunde (race science) framework. As the discourse of racial anthropology was built on the rhetoric of the difference between the ‘pure’ races and people with ‘inferior hereditary quality’ (see e.g. Günther 1933), SS museums put on display ‘pieces of evidence’ with a view to rendering present and visible that which was absent and invisible: the hierarchical order of different races. Thus, collections displayed in SS museums in concentration camps were instrumental in the process of defining the Aryan Übermensch (superhuman) as the personification of all desirable physical, cultural and intellectual attributes, born to conquer and rule the world as a member of the Herrenvolk (master race), and the non-Aryan, above all the Jewish Untermensch (subhuman) as his opposite, a radically other and barely human, suitable only for menial chores.


László Kontler

Professor of History

Central European University, Budapest


 Relocating the Human Zoo: Exotic Displays, Metropolitan Identity and Ethnographic Knowledge in Late Nineteenth-Century Hungary


The sizeable literature of the past two decades on “human zoos” has predominantly focused on their manifestations in the metropolitan centres of major colonial empires, and has emphasized the leverage provided by these displays to the rise of a culture of imperialism, racism and (Western) European triumphalism. Even in this relation, some questions have been raised (given the crowd of “urban savages” – both foreign humans and members of the indigenous underclass, with whom they were conflated –, were organized display really needed for the purposes described above?). It is, however, equally interesting and pertinent to look beyond those centres and investigate human displays in European countries without actual colonial stakes, in whose urban landscapes they were also a highly visible, frequently reported presence.  In order to take account of this feature of the human zoo, one analytical framework that can be exploited is the European based “planetary consciousness” (Marie-Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes. Travel Writing and Transculturation, London, Routledge, 1992), i.e. that colonial politics, trading networks, cultural exchange, geographic exploration became part of the overall European experience of “being-in-the-world” (Alexander Honold, “Kakanien colonial. Auf der Suche nach Welt-Österreich”, in W. Müllner-Funk, P. Plener, C. Ruthner (eds.), Kakanien revisited. Das Eigene und das Fremde (in) der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie, Tübingen-Basel, 2002, 104-20). This seems to be confirmed by the Hungarian case, where it is repeatedly stressed in the popular periodical press (the focus of this presentation) that displays of “exotic” humans, besides their important educational functions, have a significant role in shaping modern metropolitan identities, to the extent that no modern “world city” is feasible without them. More puzzling is the equally emphatic appeal of journalists to Hungarian anthropologists to take advantage of the fact that, thanks to such displays, there is no need for them to embark on cumbersome and expensive fieldwork in distant locations to do empirical research on the populations whose specimens are exhibited there. While the 1870s and 1880s were exactly the period when anthropology became institutionalized in Hungary, its relevant forums seem to show no interest in the phenomenon of “human zoos”. A tentative answer could be that in the given environment early Hungarian ethnography and anthropology was much too preoccupied with agendas under severe ideological and political influence, namely, the identification and classification of markers for (several varieties of) the “true” Hungarian population of the Carpathian Basin, to which the study of  “exotic” aliens seemed irrelevant.



Dr Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, Centre for Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary,

Buffalo Bill in East-Central Europe: The Transformation of Native Americans in Hungarian Stages



Liisi Laineste

Estonian Literary Museum

Fantasy and reality in encounters with the Black Other in turn of the century Estonia


Estonian images of the visually alien Others, ie Blacks, can be traced back to West-European colonial representations from the 19th century. Above all, the German cultural space contributed to the way people descending from Africa we depicted on images or described in writing. At the same time, German views show influences from the earlier colonisers like Great Britain and France (Hiiemaa 2006). The majority of early accounts of the Blacks in Estonia were carried by the spirit of discovery and almost playful over-exoticization of the race. The exoticism was manifested in a variety of aspects like religiosity, slave trade industry (which in fact othered the slave traders themselves as well), but also the most evident and primary level of contact – the physical appearance. This allowed for the category of the exotic to include a medley of physical marginalities: those based on height, excess hair growth, disabilities and of course, also skin colour.

The printed word (eg press, textbooks and calendars) and travelling shows of exoticism were not just the first contacts of Estonians with this faraway Other: sometimes these remained the only contacts. The otherness performed in such ethnographic shows constructed a long-lasting opposition founded on visually observable features and some of the effects of such othering can still be seen in present-day Estonia.

The paper will investigate different ways of staging the Black Other in the turn of the 19th and 20th century. The study is mainly informed by press releases and advertisements of travelling ethnographic shows. Also visitor’s accounts of what they have witnessed will be analysed. The results will be discussed to the backdrop of a wider reception of the Other in Estonia during the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century.


Dobrinka Parusheva,

Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski” / Institute of Balkan Studies – BAS

Everyday strangeness: Oddities seen from bellow (Speculation on some examples from Bulgaria)


This paper is aiming at looking at the phenomenon of human oddities as not presented on stage but present on the everyday “stage”. As a source of information some memoirs and diaries of Bulgarian people recalling the beginning of the 20th century will be used as well as some pieces of data from the contemporary newspapers in the country. An attempt will be made to discuss the subject from the point of view of what ordinary people see as oddities and how they develop their attitude to these.


Clemens Radauer



The re-use of human zoo images up until today


Abstract: During the phenomenon of presenting “exotic” groups in the 19th and

early 20th century many photographs of the exhibited people were taken, which

were then used either for scientific or commercial purposes. The vast amount of

photographs, postcards and illustrations that circulated helped forge and

manifest a stereotype image of ethnic groups from around the world in European


In order to understand the impact of these pictures on European culture it is

necessary to analyze their use outside of the human zoo context. Important

questions are: in what form and until when were these images used – and were

these staged images re-used to portray the “authentic life” of the portrayed


Through comparison of images from human zoos and postcards in different

collections and the analysis of historic ethnographic publications the re-use of

images taken during human zoos can be proven.

In scientific publications images from participants of human zoos were used as

typical representatives of ethnic groups – even many years after being taken.

Images of the staged “village life” were re-used for postcards that were

supposedly showing the authentic ethnic life. And some were used to advertise

items that had absolutely nothing to do with human zoos – even up until the 21st


Some of the images taken over 1oo years ago were continued to be used over the

past century in several different contexts and remain to be used up until today –

still perpetuating the same stereotypes as during the times of human zoos.


dr Fanny Robles, Aix-Marseille Université, France,


Whose (Post)Colonial Guilt? : The Reception of Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B in Central and Eastern Europe




Istvan Santha, Tatjana Safonova

social anthropologist (Research Centre for Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences):

The Oriental Assistants’ Cases in the West


In my paper I would like to analyze five cases taken from the end of 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. After the conciliation between Austria and Hungary in 1867 several expeditions were organized to find the descendants of ancient Hungarians remained in the East.  It looks like there was also a fashion among travellers to come back Hungary from the east with local “indigenous assistants’. Some of them were assistant of their Hungarian lords to interpret local texts collected during the expedition, some of them later became scientist in Hungary, others after coming back home to the  East became advertisers of the popular political ideas of their lords, among others that of the Turanism. In Hungary they, as their lords appeared to be representatives of the East,. They, the Others happened to be in funny situations, it seems without local contexts of Hungarian social life, from which can learn something unexpected about Us. In my paper I would like to study and compare these cases, and find further contexts for a broader, more general interpretation.


Marianna Szczygielska

Department of Gender Studies

Central European University, Budapest

The Missing Link: Human/Animal Divide in the “Bearded Lady” Spectacle


In this paper I aim to investigate several circus, freak show and human zoo exhibitions featuring women with body hair as the focus of their spectacle. I am specifically interested in performances staged in Central and Eastern Europe, or by persons from this region: Krao Farini  (1876-1926) and Adele Kis (1884-1934). In the light of evolutionary theory proving human decent from other primates these persons were presented as missing links between humans and animals. In this sense, I analyze the interplay between the animalization, gendering and racialization of human freak show performers often known as “Bearded Ladies,” that is evidenced through the context of the exhibition (often being the zoological garden), visual and textual representations in advertising, and specific focus on their ambiguous embodiment. I wonder how the context of Central Eastern Europe as the site of the exhibition or the origin of the performer influences the reception of these spectacles and the perceived Otherness of the performers.


Dr Hilke Thode-Arora,

Museum Fünf Kontinente / Five Continents Museum, Munich

Samoan Ethnic Show Travellers to Germany, 1895-1911: German and Samoan Perspectives


Most of the research on ethnic shows has focused on European sources. But how did the ethnic show performers themselves perceive their travels?

Between 1895 and 1911, three groups of Samoans travelled to Germany with Völkerschauen – ethnic shows, which were a wide-spread form of Western entertainment at the time. The most prominent visitor was high chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi who came in 1910/11, but there were titled and high-ranking persons in each of the groups. While the German recruiters meant the Samoans to perform for paying audiences, the Samoan dignitaries understood these travels as a diplomatic visit and malaga. Meeting the German emperor as well as other nobility, and receiving and giving valuables to them, some of the travellers intended the trip to Germany to strengthen their positions in the inner-Samoan political struggle for power. Behind the scenes of the shows, the representations of Samoanness and the political dimensions of the travels were under frequent negotiation by German and Samoan ‘actors’ with a considerable degree of agency on the Samoan side.

This paper explores the political background in Germany and Samoa, the recruiting and organising of the shows, European and Samoan perspectives. It is based on written, image and material sources in Samoan, New Zealand and European archives and museums, but also on interviews with those of the Samoan travellers’ descendants who could still be traced. A three-year research project funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation resulted in a museum exhibition in Munich in 2014. The Samoan Head of State’s opening of the exhibition gave special significance to the multi-perspective reconstruction of the historical events, and triggered new Samoan-German spaces of encounter – from web platforms to today’s cultural-political arena.


Zsuzsanna Varga

Rich relative, poor relative: Sami shows in the Budapest Zoo and the question of Hungarian and Finno-Ugric kinship, 1880-1900


Sami ethnographic shows in Hungary are cases in point how transnationally travelling performances acquired context-specific meaning in East Central Europe. According to the widely credited theory Hungarian -a Finno-Ugric language- belongs to the group of Uralic languages, just like Sami. The Sami and Hungarians used to live in each other’s proximity in the Uralic homeland, therefore the Sami were of particular relevance for Hungarian linguists, historians and ethnographers. The ethnographic shows in the Budapest Zoo offered the opportunity for laymen to observe the Sami and to ponder over the probability of kinship, which many Hungarians found undignifying. In order to answer the question what scientific theories and rhetoric tools were used to distance the Sami and Hungarians, I rely on journalistic accounts from the last two decades of the nineteenth-century. I argue that gender was key to depicting Hungarians as a progressive nation and the Sami as stagnant. Nineteenth-century middle class gender ideals were projected on past and present Sami populations, and Sami social relations were presented as underdeveloped. Journalists claimed that the Sami lacked the division of labour and sexual dimorphism: women performed the same tasks as men and were hardly distinguishable from men. In the frame of the ethnographic shows bodily characters, family arrangements and the performance of daily tasks became observable for broad Hungarian audiences, who drew conclusions for themselves about the civilizational status of the Sami.


Bodhari Warsame, independent researcher, Goeteborg, Sweden.

The Song of Hagenbeck and the Somali Dance: a Brief History of Staging Somali Ethnographic Performing Troupes in Europe and Beyond


Staging spectacles of human oddities and others with peculiarities that were considered “exotic” or “natural” had existed in Europe, in one form or another, for many centuries. These sorts of so called human spectacles reached new and highly diversified frontiers during late 19th to early 20th century, thus becoming widely available method of mass entertainment in Europe and America. It was this period that many native peoples were recruited in groups by different entrepreneuring impresarios and exotic merchants into the business of itinerant ethnic spectacles, also known as völkerschau. Among these recruits were several Somali performing troupes that toured Europe and beyond for about 40 years, beginning from 1885 up to 1930.

The Somalis became so popular in the European circuits that one daily newspaper in Germany once wrote; Um Afrika zu sehen macht man keine lange reise, sondern gehte zu den 100 im Somalidorf. Hagenbeck’s Tierpark[1]. This roughly translates into; “to see Africa, one does not need to travel far but only needs to see the 100 [Somalis] at the Somali village at the Hagenbeck’s animal park”.

Therefore, this presentation which is part of  a wider research will focus mainly on tracing these Somali groups’ movements in Europe (15 countries, including Poland), the nature and extent of their work, experiences (positive/negative), means of survival while abroad and the reciprocal views between the exhibited (Somalis) and the audience (European).

Since the Somalis were first recruited for the famous Carl Hagenbeck enterprise which was generally responsible for the wide spread of such new form of mass exotic entertainment by pairing lucrative wildlife trade with live ethnic spectacles, particularly in Germany, this presentation will also shed some light on the special long term business relationship between Carl Hagenbeck and one specific Somali group which frequented European tours for the entire duration the Somalis were involved in this venture.

Finally, the presentation will highlight what became of those Somalis and their newly found experiences after the end of human exhibitions era in Europe and then point out to some remaining traces in Europe to date. This will conclude with a mini report on the wider research on the subject and suggestions for further research/collaboration possibilities.


Oyungerel Tangad


The Acquired Otherness. The Buddhist Temple in Saint Petersburg at the beginning of the 20th century

In my paper, the way how the Russians perceived the Other at the beginning of the 20th century – connected, first of all, with their attitude towards the Asians – will be considered. Since the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, for some Russian intellectuals the linkage between the Russians and the Asians has been perceived as crucial in the discourse on the Russian identity. Having a considerable influence on the Tsar court’s policy, those intellectuals (like for example, prince Esper Ukhtomsky) expressed their affinity towards Asia and actively promoted Asian philosophy, religion, and culture. In this context, the history of the Buddhist Temple, opened in 1915 in the Russian capital, Saint Petersburg could be considered as a culmination of a long-lasting Russian interest in Siberia, Mongolia, and Tibet, as well as the outcome of numerous pioneering scientific researches and expeditions to Central Asia, funded by the Russian Imperial Court  starting from the 18th century.

The public expositions of humans (“human zoos”) in so called “African and Asian villages”, modeled on Western European shows, took place in Saint Petersburg as well, at the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, in my presentation I would like to focus on the way how the Russians approached the Asians in multi-confessional Saint Petersburg, where Buddhist, Muslim and, Judaist communities prayed in their temples to celebrate the 300-years anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty in 1913.

The issues of introducing and promoting Asian Buddhism by the Russian intellectuals as an exotic, but positive side of the Other, worth to be included in Russian social life, will be of particular interest for my paper. Surely, various Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies, like tsam–performed by masked and costumed dancers or the “mandala offering” rituals conducted by Mongolian monks – were a part of spectacular events in Saint Petersburg at that time, being both a theatrical and a social project of staging the Otherness.


Ewa Manikowska

Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

Staging multi-ethnic cultural landscape at the margins of the Austrian Empire.


In this paper I discuss provincial ethnographic shows organized in Eastern Galicia in the last quarter of the 19th century. I focus on the ethnographic shows staged in the occasion of the imperial Inpection Tours in Kolomya in 1880 and Ternopil in 1880. They both focused on several Ruthenian highlander peoples inhabiting the isolated areas of the Carpathian mountains, and on their peculiar and colourful culture and customs.These backward, unorganised and hardly accessible regions became, in the last quarter of the 19th century, an object of scientific discovery and cultural fascination, as well as an important element of identity-building among the Polish and Ruthenian intellectual elites in the reality of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As Marta Filipovà has shown, based on the example of the exhibition culture, in the borderlands of monarchies and empires marked by cultural and ethnic diversity and tensionsexhibitions may be seen as tools for reinforcing an imagined community and as places where specific ideas of local, regional and national identity were displayed. In this context I will analyse both exhibtions, in which the staging of living ethnographic groups was one of the most impressive elements of the show.Already along the train tracks and at the stations on the Emperors’ routes in Eastern Galicia people in their Sunday dress, often wearing the attributes of their social position, profession or religion, gathered together to form a ‘great ethnographic gallery.’ At both exhibtions the richness of the dress and the ethnic diversity was the central and most appealing part of the show. While in Kolomya it was displayed with the mean of mannequines, in Ternopil a ‘living exhibition’was featured. In front of the exhibtion pavillon in the vast civic parkone could walk in the main alley and admire around forty folk groups in Sunday dress, representing the entire region. Both shows featured ethnographic performance spectacles, illustrating folk customs (dance, the harvest feast, singing etc.) with the participation of several dozen of peasants.


Agnes Fulemile

senior research fellow, Institute of Ethnology RCH, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest


Imaginary Ethnography – on the Narrative and Pictorial Legacy of the Representation of the “Monstrum hominis” and the Early Discovery of the World

The paper deals with the rich visual history of representation of legendary “human monsters”, which populated the unknown parts of the world in the late-antique, medieval and early modern imagination.

In Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the concept of “terra incognita” the unknown peripheries of the existing world were associated with a series of miraculous beasts. The medieval associations were developed from depictions of distant places in the Late Antique Physiologus literature, that summarised the Antique travel and scientific traditions and provided a transcendental and spiritual interpretation of the miraculous phenomena. The Physiologus was one of the most popular and widely copied works of the Middle Ages and became a didactic tool in ethical teaching. In the early medieval encyclopaedias, the description was accompanied by mystical commentaries: animals with miraculous qualities, anthropomorphic figures and human monsters were systematised as symbols of certain ethical qualities in the wise order of divine creation.  Genres of illustrated books developed from this tradition, such as the bestiaries (a “natural history” of real and miraculous animals and beings, with allegorical and moralising interpretations) and mirabilia (which presented the Wonders of the East).  According to this reading, the “monstruosus homines”, or semi-human monsters, were among the animal and human species and on the maps of the world (“mappa mundi”), these places and peoples, as part of the existing world, were located in the hierarchical spatial order of the universe. The places of the canonical miracles (miraculum) and the places of the apocryphal wonders located on the periphery of the world (mirabilium) coexisted in harmony, both had their place, role, and deeper meaning in God’s wisely created world. The legends of miraculous creatures became part of medieval knowledge, and their symbolism was incorporated into the iconography of art. The motifs were adopted and further disseminated by the popular literarytravel fiction of the Middle Ages. These narrative and visual toposes were still vivid and influential in the time of book printing and the great geographic discoveries. The firm beliefs in these “human monsters” figures defined the way how early ethnographies described and represented the newly discovered places of the earth. This deeply rooted popular imagination has a continuity in the 18-20 c. interest in human oddities and freak shows.


Bartosz Hlebowicz

Why did the Lakota sing a death song at Karl May’s grave? The Native Americans of the Sarrasani’s Drezden World Theatre.

At the turn of the twentieth century many Native Americans willingly took part in white men’s enterprises, first Wild West shows and then the film industry. Wild West shows toured not only the United States but the Old World as well. Europeans also had their own arenas in which exoticism from the New World could be performed: Native Americans were exhibited along with the elephants, camels, zebras, Cossaks, Ethiopians, and Bedouins, among other “species.” A good example of such a circus was Sarrasani’s World Theatre in Dresden whose founder and director Hans Stosch alias Giovanni Sarrasani pretended to offer “authentic” representation of the Native Americans: „We wanted to have them for real and in person.”

Among the Native Americans who performed in Europe the Lakotas who toured with the Buffalo Bill and the 101 Ranch shows were particularly visible. Some of them performed at the Sarrasani circus and paid homage to Karl May who had died a year before the arrival of the Lakotas to Dresden in 1913.

I will focus on the problem of why the Lakota and other tribal peoples participated in what seems to have been a distortion of their cultures, with a suggestion that they used the Euro-American strategy of “othering” for their own purposes.

[1] Quoted in, Thode-Arora, Hilke (1989:140) Für Fünfzig Pfennig um die Welt. Die Hagenbeckschen Volkerschauen. Cambus.


Dominika Czarnecka

Institute of Archeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

Being/making a view: exotic bodies in the context of ethnographic shows in Warsaw and Łódź


In this paper I focus on the process of constructing ‘a view’ in the context of ethnographic shows which I understand as a form of live encounters with the otherness. This presentation is based on source materials (e.g. press articles, adverts, photographs, caricatures), which I have been able to collect at this stage of my reasearch. These materials concern the exotic trouppes which gave performances in Warsaw and Łódź at the end of the 19th century. The aim of this presentation is to consider: How „a view” can be defined in the context of ethnographic shows? What is the difference between being and making „a view”? In what way the category of „a view” seems to be relevant in relation to ethnographic shows? What role plays ‘a view’ in the process of othering?