Miriam Tola

Killing Softly: European Whiteness, Black Labor, and African Wildlife in Ulrich Seild’s Safari

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Keywords: Ulrich Seidl, whiteness, race, animality, postcolonial nature, white mobility

This essay examines how Ulrich Seidl’s film Safari addresses European whiteness in a moment of intensified racialization of European border regimes. Featuring white European tourists travelling to Sub-Saharan Africa for big game-hunting vacations, the documentary dissects contemporary trophy tourism’s relations to colonial archives of race and animality. At the time when European discourses on migration largely frame racialized others as intruders claiming space at the expense of white nationals, the film foregrounds trophy tourism as a site for reproducing hegemonic white masculinity. Through the contrast between white gazes and black looks, speech and silence, Safari conveys how the regeneration of European whiteness depends on the association between disposable black labor and killable animal life. Although Safari never visualizes European borders, it compels audiences to consider how the racial hierarchies that underpin the governing of mobility have been historically articulated in relation to African people and lifeworlds. Thus, this film provides a poignant counterpoint to the disavowal of race in contemporary European public discourse.

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