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Other Voices in Garden History - Hearing the Voices from a Human Zoo

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The eighth in a 10-part lecture series, celebrating the voices beginning to be heard, online once a week on Mondays at 6 pm.

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This series of illustrated lectures will explore the impact and legacy of empire, colonialism and enslavement on western garden and landscape history. Our aim is to bring back some of the voices usually absent from this history, to identify and fill gaps in our collective knowledge, and to explore new ways of engaging with the whole history of gardens, landscapes and horticulture.

The diverse range of topics and speakers will offer a new range of perspectives on the history of gardens and landscapes and suggest more inclusive ways of presenting and interpreting their stories. The series does not aim to point fingers or to encourage hand-wringing but is more a celebration of voices starting to be heard.

This talk is the eighth in our series aiming to hear voices previously absent from our garden history:

1: Guns and Roses: Humphry Repton at Warley Park

2: Historic Landscapes for All: Learning to Share

3: Learning from The Blackamoor

4: The Work of Ingrid Pollard

5: Collecting with Lao Chao [Zhao Chengzhang]

6: Telling tales about trees: the voices and stories that have helped build Africa's Great Green Wall

7: Working towards inclusive Botanic Gardens

8: Hearing the Voices from a Human Zoo

9: Contested Landscapes: Race and the English Rural Countryside Space

10: Other Voices in Garden History: Discussion Panel

This ticket is for this individual session and costs £5, and you may purchase tickets for other individual sessions via the links above, or you may purchase a ticket for the entire course of 10 sessions at a cost of £40 (students £15) via the link here.

Attendees will be sent a Zoom link 2 days prior to the start of the talk, and a link to the recorded session (available for 1 week) will be sent shortly afterwards.

Week 8. 31 May: ‘Hearing the Voices from a Human Zoo’ by Jill Sinclair

King Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo as his own private colony from 1885 to 1908, treating the local people brutally. With the fortune he made from Congolese ivory and rubber, Leopold embarked on extensive building and landscape projects. The source of his funds was openly celebrated at the 1897 Brussels Worlds Fair, where exhibits included 267 people forcibly shipped from the Congo to be displayed in what were effectively human zoos.

One of Leopold’s favourite designers was the French landscape architect Elie Lainé, whom Jill Sinclair has been researching for a number of years. Best known in the UK for his work at Waddesdon Manor, Lainé worked for the Belgian king from 1889. This lecture will explore some of the issues around interpreting landscapes funded by (and indeed designed to celebrate) colonialism and enslavement.

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Jill Sinclair is a garden and landscape historian based in Sheffield. She is a director of the Historic Gardens Foundation, edited its journal Historic Gardens Review, and teaches the University of Oxford’s online course in the history of the English Landscape Garden. Jill is the convenor of the ‘Other Voices in Garden History’ lecture series......

Image credit: Part of the ‘Congolese Villages’ at the Brussels Worlds Fair, 1897. HP.1946.1058.1-21, collection RMCA Tervuren; photo A. Gautier, 1897. Shared under the CCA license: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 BE

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