It was noxious. On a poster, a young African woman is resting on the ground, her breasts are exposed, one leg bent suggestively. Right behind her, a wild-looking black girl with red hair is wagging her hips.
What I am observing is not an ancient pornographic cartoon. It is an old, official poster, which is advertising a so-called ‘human zoo’, or as it used to be called in French: ‘Jardin Zoologique D’Acclimatation’. And it is not hanging somewhere around Pigalle, but in a highly ‘respectable’ Army Museum, Musée de l’Armée, in the enormous palace – Hôtel national des Invalides – near the Military School, Napoleon’s Tomb and the headquarters of UNESCO.
On this matter, Iman Hassan wrote for ‘Africa Matters’ in 2013:
“In the 19th and 20th century, Human Zoos were public exhibits of indigenous people to demonstrate the customs and lifestyles of the ‘uncivilized’…
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