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The CEU Campus
Thursday, January 17, 2019, 8:30 am – 6:30 pm




Conference Program

A sizeable body of scholarship is now available on ‘ethnic shows’ or ‘human zoos’ as aspects of the culture and ideology of colonialism, imperialism and racism in Western metropolitan contexts. This is the second international conference of a project based at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (, which investigates this phenomenon in its manifestations in Central and Eastern Europe, where the social, political, cultural and economic environment was decidedly different from the much-analyzed situation in the West. By “relocating” the subject and changing the perspective, we hope to shed a different light on the subject as a whole.

Understanding the mechanisms which govern the process of defining otherness in the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century bears significant consequences for the understanding of the iconosphere of contemporary culture, socio-cultural practices related to global tourism, and patterns of getting to know the world through changing media of communication. The first conference (Warsaw, 25-27 October 2017) proved that there is an interest in this topic, and space to investigate the issue in East-Central European context. The second conference aims to discuss the issue of the diversity of ethnographic shows (ethnic shows, Völkerschau), human zoos, cirques, variété, freak shows, and different forms of local shows where living people were presented in front of the audience.

We are particularly interested in focusing on what took place in the space between the stage and the audience, between ‘exotic’ individuals and the local public. We are looking for answers to such questions as:

 -Were ethnographic shows a kind of encounter with the Other or bypass each other?

-What did live shows mean to the ‘exotic’ individuals?

-What characters were embodied by ‘exotic’ Others, and how were they recognized by the audience?

-What imaginary figures were evoked by the ‘staged’ individuals in the local public?

-What triggered the response of the spectators - action, skills, body, characteristic figures, gestures, vision, movement, sound?

-What local responses were evoked?

 The organizing committee: Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska, Dominika Czarnecka, Dagnosław Demski, Ágnes Fülemile, László Kontler, Ildikó Sz. Kristóf

 Day 1: Thursday, 17 January (Central European University, 1051 Budapest, Nádor u. 9. 1st Floor, Gellner Room)

 8:30-9:15 – Registration

9:15-9:30 – Welcomes

 Session 1: Through East-Central European Eyes (Chair: Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)

9:30-9:50 – Maria Leskinen (Institute for Slavic Studies Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow), Human Zoos in the Russian Empire: A Century of Silence? Russian Writers on Demonstrations of "Savages" in Russian Cities (1870–1915)

9:50-10:10 – István Sántha (Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Staged Otherness in Saint-Petersburg/Russia

10:10-10:30 –Ágnes Fülemile (Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), The Politics of Habsburg Imperial Representation – Staging the Ethnographic “Other” within the Multiethnic Empire

10:30-10:50 – Filip Herza (Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague), Islands of Happiness, Shores of Anxiety: Ethnic Shows in the 19th- and 20th-century Prague

10:50-11:30 – Discussion

 11:30-11:50 – Coffee break

 Session 2: Academic and Dramatic Perspectives on Otherness (Chair: László Kontler, Central European University, Budapest)

11:50-12:10 – Ildikó Sz. Kristóf (Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Show, Science or Discursive Register(s) of Interpretation? / 2. Ethnographic Shows and Scholarship in Hungary in the Late 19th Century

12:10-12:30 – Dagnosław Demski (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), Drama of Exoticism. Characters, Plots, and Reception of Ethnic Shows in Poland

12:30-12:50 – Discussion

 12:50-14:00 – Lunch break

 14:00-15:00 – Keynote lecture: Guido Abbattista (University of Trieste), Staged for What? Living Human Exhibitions between Entertainment, Science and Education  (Chair: László Kontler, Central European University, Budapest)

15:00-15:30 – Discussion

 15:30-15:50 – Coffee break

 Session 3: Individual Exhibits (Chair:Hilke Thode-Arora, Museum Fünf Kontinente/Five Continents Museum, Munich),

15:50-16:10 – Daša Ličen (Institute of Ethnology, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana), Saida and other Others in Late Habsburg Trieste

16:10-16:30 – Markéta Křížová (Center of Ibero-American Studies, Charles University, Prague), Noble Savage Visiting Prague: The One-Man Ethnographic Show of Vojtěch Frič, 1908-1909

16:30-16:50 – Timea Barabas (University of Bucharest), Bending the Bed of Procustes. A Case Study of Gogea Mitu from the Circus Stage to the Boxing Ring

16:50-17:20 – Discussion

 Session 4: The Human Zoo in the News (Chair:Dagnosław Demski, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)

17:30-17:50 – Andreja Mesarič (McPin Foundation, London) and Jana Milovanović (Terra Verra Association, Kostanjevica na Krki), Encounters with Otherness on the Habsburg Periphery: Representations of Live Ethnographic Exhibits in Slovenian Language Newspapers

17:50-18:10 – Clemens Radauer (Radauer Collection, Vienna), Relationships in the Human Zoo Context – Truth or Newspaper Hoax?

18:10-18:30 - Discussion

 Day 2: Friday, 18 January 2019 (Institute of Ethnology, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán u. 4.)

 Session 1: Outside vs. Inside View (Chair:Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest),

10:00-10:20 – Hilke Thode-Arora (Museum Fünf Kontinente/Five Continents Museum, Munich), The Hagenbeck Ethnic Shows: Recruitment, Organisation, Academic and Popular Response

10:20-10:40 – Bodhari Warsame (independent scholar, Göteborg): The Song of Hagenbeck and the Somali Dance: a Brief History of Staging Somali Ethnographic Performing Troupes in Europe and Beyond (1885-1930)

10:40-11:00 – Discussion

 11:00-11:20 – Coffee break

 Session 2: Animals and Humans in the Zoo (Chair: Clemens Radauer, Radauer Collection, Vienna)

11:20-11:40 – Zsuzsanna Varga (Central European University, Budapest), Colonial Spaces through Exotic Aimals in Budapest

11:40-12:00 - Dominika Czarnecka (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), ‘And on Sundays we went to watch people’. Live Ethnic Shows in Breslau Zoological Garden 1876-1930

12:00-12:20 –  Discussion

 12:20-13:30 –Lunch break

 Session 3: Distant vs. Domestic Exoticism – part I (Chair: István Sántha, Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest)

13:30-13:50 – Izabela Kopania (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), “When Winter Arrives, the Sinhalese Come back to Sri Lanka and their Elephants to Habsburg”. Hagenbeck’s Sinhales Troupe Travels in the Eastern Borders of Europe

13:50-14:10 – Anssi Halmesvirta (University of Jyväskylä), ’Africans’ and ’Chinese’ Exhibited in Finland in 1926

14:10-14:30 – Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), World of Wonders: Circuses in Upper Silesia in the Early 20th Century

14:30-15:00 – Discussion

 15:00­–15:20 Coffee break

 Session 4:  Distant vs. Domestic Exoticism – part II (Chair: Ágnes Fülemile, Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest)

15:20-15:40 – Ildikó Sirató (Hungarian National Széchényi Library, Budapest): Sources of Staged ‘Others’ in Budapest – Examples from Opera House to Fun-Fairs

15:40-16:00 – Dániel Molnár (independent scholar, Budapest), A Whirlwind from the Puszta – Hungarian Artists and Hungarian Style Acts in Berlin Variety Theatres between 1920-1961

16:00-16:20 – Milan Ducháček (Department of History, Faculty of Science, Humanities and Education, Technical University of Liberec), Slovaks on Display: Exoticism of the "Eastern Brothers" at the Czechoslavic Ethnographic Exhibition in Prague 1895

16:20-16:50 – Discussion