Les Musées Coloniaux dans l’Imagination Française : Un Examen Critique de la Représentation des Africains sub-sahariens à l’Exposition Internationale Coloniale de 1931
MetadataShow full item record
French colonialism during the interwar period is easily an under-studied terrain both with respect to studied colonial images and the historical underpinnings of the period. Scholars of this period consider French colonial images and discourse to align with and support the colonial agenda, making the timeline of French colonialism with Africa very linear; however, this view does not account for the incredibly nuanced and confused vision of French colonialism that defined the interwar period and destabilized the empire. In my undergraduate thesis, I complicate the theory of France’s linear colonial trajectory by arguing that the French administration’s contradictory discourse, glorification and utilization of traditional African arts, and derogatory representations of colonized Africans fuse together to cultivate an ambivalence towards the colony, and ultimately, a lack of direction for France’s future vision of the “colonial utopia” and mission civilisatrice. I argue this point through an analysis of Africans represented at the Exposition Coloniale Internationale de 1931, specifically with regards to the sub-Saharan African pavilions and the façade of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, which functions as a case-study for the greater analysis on what type of storytelling was expressed in the metropole around France’s African colonies. This project illuminates France’s teetering sentiments, imaged contradictions, and aesthetic ambivalence toward the colony during the interwar period which would directly impact the trajectory of not only colonial relationship, but also how France views their own civilization.