Pascal Blanchard

Historian and Researcher - CNRS Communication & Politics Laboratory

How are racist representations made? That is the question historian Pascal Blanchard asks in his latest documentary, “Wild, in the Heart of Human Zoos”, co-directed by Bruno Victor-Pujebet. By focusing on a forgotten part of the history of colonialism, Blanchard, a CNRS researcher who specializes in colonial times and immigration issues, lays out how, and why, a “colonialist mentality” was built throughout the 20th century. He shows how, for more than a century, in zoos and open-air exhibitions around the world, Westerners displayed “native” people from their colonies to justify their own colonial enterprise. In doing so, they legitimized racialist and racist views toward these populations. Blanchard’s lesson is that people can be colonialists without actually living in the colonies. His message is that we need to constantly question our vision of the Other: It’s a salutary look-back that finds new echoes today.

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