Exoticization in the Past and the Present

Kasper Otto Dam Hansen, Farrell Sabrina Desiken, Maiken Kuld Nielsen & Daniele Leonaite

Studenteropgave: Fagmodulprojekt


The practice of human exhibitions in the Copenhagen Zoo/Tivoli and the rest of Europe was intimately intertwined with the ideas of racial hierarchies and colonialism. Now, with heritage tourism on the rise in former colonies, in this case, the south-Indian town Tranquebar/Tharangambadi, this project sets out to compare the two practices to find possible similarities in their narratives. For this, the project employs the term ‘exoticization’ as a theoretical framework, as the concept opens up for taking a more in-depth look into the roles of race, colonialism, and nationalism, in the two cases. Thus, the analysis is split into three parts that each investigate a different aspect of the exhibitions and heritage tourism. The first part looks at the narratives, the second looks at the creation of identities between the superior and subaltern, while the last section looks into how the processes of exoticization have changed. Lastly, a short discussion is provided, which looks into how the exotic and exoticization are socially constructed.
The project concludes that human exhibitions in Denmark and heritage tourism in Tranquebar shares similar narratives which both upholds the idea of the undeveloped as being exotic. However, within heritage tourism, the locals have more agency in their portrayal, and the processes of exoticization have the possibility of being reciprocal. Likewise, both cases show evidence of those involved using the ‘other’ to construct their identities, to various degrees. Finally, it is concluded that exoticization of the ‘other’ is still happening today, albeit in a different form, which cements the term as being socially constructed based on who you are, the historical circumstances, and the situation.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor
VejledereTore Elias Harsløf Holst