Curating an image of Lagos

As early as 1886, Lagosian intellectuals were engaged in changing racist and stereotyped ideas of Africa and Africans. They made a conscious effort in showing an intellectual and vibrant city, interconnected to Europe and the Americas.

As early as 1886, Lagosian intellectuals were engaged in changing racist and stereotyped ideas of Africa and Africans. They made a conscious effort in showing an intellectual and vibrant city, interconnected to Europe and the Americas. In my thesis Producing Intellectuals (2013) I showed some of these attempts by Lagosians who got involved in anti-slavery and anti-racist movements. Here, in this post, I would like to talk about one of my favourites: the image of Lagos curated for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition.catalogue colonial exhibition

In the summer of 1886, the Colonial and Indian Exhibition was held in London. Around fourteen thousand people attended the opening ceremony, including Queen Victoria. In total five million people attended the exhibition, which through special lighting and other effects created an experience of the “non-Western” world.

A review in the African Times commented that “the Exhibition itself [was] too vast for us, in the limits…

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