Trigger Warning: On a Photograph and a Blog Post

Carl Hagenbeck
Carl Hagenbeck
Carl Hagenbeck

In attempting to understand the origins of racism, it is important to avoid removing it to a historical past or displacing its sources onto the oppressed.  Any investigation or representations of [otherness], then, must take a critical look at Euro-American whiteness to understand the construction of race as a category.  As critic Coco Fusco has insisted, “To ignore white ethnicity is to reduce its hegemony by nautrualizing it”

Brian Wallis, Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerrotypes, in “Only Skin Deep”, p. 179

In the original quote, “otherness” was “african-american blackness”, but as we move out towards Euro-American ideals of seeing “types”, it becomes the other.  This is post is a reaction to a recent post that was featured on Sociological Images, Human Zoos at the Turn of the 20th Century.  The post featured this mans quotes and appeared to be in response to a Speigel Online article on remains being returned home.  The article featured a small photogallery.  Instead of using the image of the man behind the terror/horror, the only images that accompanied the article, and article that led with the trigger warning on the image above, only featured images of the “victims”, not the man.  I think the trigger warning should sit with the man holding the gun.  If we are going to face it, we should see the proper faces of the violence. Not the metaphorical remains of their inhumane actions. That strips those people and their descendants of their humanity, over, and over, and over again.  The new term I learned this weekend from my psychoanalysis reading was “soul murder”.  I’m starting to think that is what the displacement of oppression does.

The image above is my attempt at properly facing the trigger warning, because he was not one of the ones who stayed so behind the scenes of the people and the photographs that we do not have his name or quotes or (hi)story, and because his name is still spoken, anytime someone wants to go to his zoo, the one that bears his name.

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