Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire, and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Hardcover | October 31, 2011

bySadiah Qureshi

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In May 1853, Charles Dickens paid a visit to the “savages at Hyde Park Corner,” an exhibition of thirteen imported Zulus performing cultural rites ranging from songs and dances to a “witch-hunt” and marriage ceremony. Dickens was not the only Londoner intrigued by these “living curiosities”: displayed foreign peoples provided some of the most popular public entertainments of their day. At first, such shows tended to be small-scale entrepreneurial speculations of just a single person or a small group. By the end of the century, performers were being imported by the hundreds and housed in purpose-built “native” villages for months at a time, delighting the crowds and allowing scientists and journalists the opportunity to reflect on racial difference, foreign policy, slavery, missionary work, and empire.
 
Peoples on Parade provides the first substantial overview of these human exhibitions in nineteenth-century Britain. Sadiah Qureshi considers these shows in their entirety—their production, promotion, management, and performance—to understand why they proved so commercially successful, how they shaped performers’ lives, how they were interpreted by their audiences, and what kinds of lasting influence they may have had on notions of race and empire. Qureshi supports her analysis with diverse visual materials, including promotional ephemera, travel paintings, theatrical scenery, art prints, and photography, and thus contributes to the wider understanding of the relationship between science and visual culture in the nineteenth century.
 
Through Qureshi’s vibrant telling and stunning images, readers will see how human exhibitions have left behind a lasting legacy both in the formation of early anthropological inquiry and in the creation of broader public attitudes toward racial difference.

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From the Publisher

In May 1853, Charles Dickens paid a visit to the “savages at Hyde Park Corner,” an exhibition of thirteen imported Zulus performing cultural rites ranging from songs and dances to a “witch-hunt” and marriage ceremony. Dickens was not the only Londoner intrigued by these “living curiosities”: displayed foreign peoples provided some of t...

Sadiah Qureshi is an affiliated scholar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and senior research fellow in the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:392 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.1 inPublished:October 31, 2011Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226700968

ISBN - 13:9780226700960

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ladies and Gentlemen, I Bring You . . .

Part One: Street Spectacles

Chapter One: Glimpsing Urban Savages

Chapter Two: Artful Promotion

Part Two. Metropolitan Encounters

Chapter Three: Managing Performance

Chapter Four: Recruiting Entertainers

Chapter Five: Interpreting Exhibitions

Part Three: The Natural History of Race

Chapter Six: Transforming "Unfruitful Wonder"

Chapter Seven: The End of an Affair

Conclusion: Afterlives

Acknowledgments

Appendix: Terminology

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Peoples on Parade breaks new ground in two increasingly prominent fields in the history of science: popularization and race. Dissolving the traditional dichotomy between the making and the popularization of knowledge, Sadiah Qureshi shows that science was made as well as staged in the shows she analyzes. Her book also transcends simple equations between exotic human displays and racist oppression, unpacking the complex social, political, and personal negotiations which made these shows such an important part of nineteenth-century public culture.”