An exploration of how an official French visual culture normalized France’s colonial project and exposed citizens and subjects to racialized ideas of life in the empire.
By the end of World War I, having fortified its colonial holdings in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Asia, France had expanded its dominion to the four corners of the earth. This volume examines how an official French visual culture normalized the country’s colonial project and exposed citizens and subjects alike to racialized ideas of life in the empire. Essays analyze aspects of colonialism through investigations into the art, popular literature, material culture, film, and exhibitions that represented, celebrated, or were created for France’s colonies across the seas.
These studies draw from the rich documents and media—photographs, albums, postcards, maps, posters, advertisements, and children’s games—related to the nineteenth- and twentieth-century French empire that are held in the Getty Research Institute’s Association Connaissance de l’histoire de l’Afrique contemporaine (ACHAC) collections. ACHAC is a consortium of scholars and researchers devoted to exploring and promoting discussions of race, iconography, and the colonial and postcolonial periods of Africa and Europe.
“Visualizing Empire introduces a stunning archive, now at the Getty Research Institute, that will be a powerful addition to the study of art and visual culture of early twentieth-century French colonialism. Utilizing a diversity of artifacts—from toys to maps—the authors demonstrate the centrality of material culture in the Republic's imperial ambitions to build consensus at home and to justify its racial, political, and economic dominance in the countries that comprised its colonies. This groundbreaking anthology enacts the importance of rigorous collaborative scholarship as itself a subversive corrective to a past that continues to haunt the present.”
—Kishwar Rizvi, Professor in the History of Art, Islamic Art and Architecture, Yale University