‘Africans’ and the ‘Chinese’ Exhibited in Finland in the years 1926-1928
Halmesvirta, Anssi (2019). ‘Africans’ and the ‘Chinese’ Exhibited in Finland in the years 1926-1928. Acta Ethnographica Hungarica, 64 (1), 201-209. DOI: 10.1556/022.2019.64.1.11
Published inActa Ethnographica Hungarica
© 2019 Akadémiai Kiadó
This article analyses two peculiar cases of ‘otherness’ (alterity), as witnessed on stage at an exhibition of Chinese and African cultures presented by the Finnish Missionary Society from 1926-1928. This exhibition consisted of a man-made figure (re)presenting the Ovambo (African) culture of South-West Africa, in concert with Chinese figures who were made to represent the contemporary culture of China. Of note is the fact that the Chinese part of the exhibition was not as contemporary as proposed. In fact, it had imperial qualities. Both sections of the exhibition were ‘made-in-Finland’ type artificial representations which bordered on total inauthenticity as the organizers did not have anything more indigenous or native to the lands presented at hand. In short, they had to be both inventive and resourceful. In any case, the public (urban middle- and high-class, schoolchildren, teachers, academic and educated people in general) did not seem to care about the ambiguous mixture of apparent (‘white’) identity and (‘black’, Chinese) alterities as they were – for the most part – satisfied with the exhibition, which served as a very rare attraction in Finland at that time. ...