As the first global mass medium, the magic lantern played an important role in the colonial practices of state officials, missionaries, and scientific and academic communities. Therefore, this subproject uncovers the role of colonial magic lantern lectures in Belgium, deconstructing the entanglements between science, politics, and religion in the Belgian colonial context. The general aim is to analyse lectures of public speakers in which colonial slides were used, and to follow said speakers on their journeys as they visited different sites (within academical, geographical, scientific, economic, and medical societies). In doing so, three essential aspects of this project will be addressed: 1) unearthing the interplay of knowledge, performance, and power in colonial lectures, 2) uncovering the contribution of the magic lantern in the consolidation of a scientific culture and 3) determining its role in the production, distribution, and vulgarization of knowledge about overseas regions. The focal point is Belgium, although the public speakers who lectured about colonial themes were often international itinerants who were not afraid to venture across borders and continents. In addition, I will consider the impact of colonial lantern representations on current discourses regarding visual media and on the colonial heritage of several institutes, such as universities and archives. Furthermore, the project aims to make the lantern slides that reside in Belgium accessible for further research.
Image: Lantern slide showing a map of Africa, Archives of the Royal Geographical Society of Antwerp, slide 276