Stolen authenticity: Reception of the Primitive Art and Culture on The Representative International Fairs in late XIX and early XX century

  • Nada Sekulić Department of Sociology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
colonialism, primitive art, the relationship of authentic and reproduction in culture and art


The colonial expansion has marked the beginning of the collecting of the art objects from the conquered countries and regions. Spanish conquistadors transported various cultural artifacts of Aztecs and Incas in Europe, where they became curiosities at the chambers of the royalty. With further geographical discoveries, through trade routes and wars, the number of these items considerably increased and in the 18th century the first museums were established where they were exposed for public exhibitions. At a time when there was no photographs nor film, for people who were not able to travel, museums and public exhibitions became the main source of information about primitive cultures, but also the main source for the construction of stereotypes about them. The most important among them were the great world exhibition fairs of technology and art. They represented the foundation of the global (imperialist) integration and vision of the world. The primitive cultures and various conflicting aspects of imperialist conquest were deleted by creating the image of their timelessness and backwardness, as well as of their exotic beauty and authenticity. Primitive culture and imperialism were framed in the common picture of their mutual harmonious complementarity. The authenticity of the cultural artifacts of primitive cultures together with the entire nations and their resources have been colonized and exploited giving way to the ideology of modernism and the development of capitalism.


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How to Cite
Sekulić, Nada. 2016. “Stolen Authenticity: Reception of the Primitive Art and Culture on The Representative International Fairs in Late XIX and Early XX Century”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 11 (3), 897–911.