Supervisor: VANHAESEBROUCK Karel (ULB) | Co-supervisor: KESSLER Frank (UU)
Between 1850 and 1930, the lantern played a central part in missionary propaganda. Projected images helped greatly in putting religious messages across, because they added a visual dimension to the spoken sermon, which was especially effective since the pictures were shown in solemn darkness. Magic lantern shows were used by missionaries such as the Paters van Scheut or the Zusters Franciscanessen Missionarissen van Maria in their overseas work not only to evangelize and educate “the uncivilized native” people, but also to promote the mission’s work in Belgium: images from Congo, Mongolia, Chile or the Philippines accompanied lectures back home to advocate the cause and raise money. The lantern proved a powerful tool in transmitting a missionary view justifying colonialism to the Belgian public, but it was also used to unmask the atrocities of King Leopold’s rule in the Congo through a slide set entitled “A Reign of Terror on the Congo” (Thompson 2012) and in illustrated lectures abroad by, for instance, Arthur Conan Doyle. Through the study of slide collections (Kadoc, Holy Grave, Africa Museum, Museum Dr Guislain), this PhD project will examine the Belgian missionaries’ use of the lantern. It will focus in particular on the constitution of racist stereotypes in the visualizations of the cultural Other against the background of similar contemporary popular representations of the Other in freak shows, fairs and the Zoos humains on World Exhibitions.