Ilaria Gasparotto

Missionary Ethnography. A «Universal Exhibition» in Turin, 1858

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Ethnographic Collections; Missionary Exhibitions; Colonial Culture.

In 1858, the diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith of Turin organized a charity lottery, which aimed to raise funds for the support of catholic missionaries native to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Thousands of exotic objects arrived then in Turin. This essay deals with the grounds which contributed to the taking place of the event; then, it investigates how the lottery performed; finally, it analyzes its results. The event initiated a long-lasting sequence of missionary exhibitions, exhibits and missionary ethnographic museums, which gathered collections increasingly reasoned and systematic. Therefore, it is an establishing episode of a long-term phenomenon: the exhibition of missionary ethnographic collections in Italy and Europe at the juncture of the XIX and XX century, as part of a wider experience of displaying exotic Alterity opposed to Western national identities.

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