Zulus on Display

This project explores the use of Zulus and Zuluness as entertainment from the mid-1850s to the present. Touching on exhibitions of Zulus by Europeans and North Americans early on, this is a tale of exploitation and cultural appropriation. Moving into the early to mid-twentieth century, however, it becomes clear that this is not a one-way exchange of culture, but rather an arrangement that, at times, was used to the benefit of marginalized groups, specifically African Americans and Zulus themselves.

This is by no means an exhaustive account of the many uses of Zulus as entertainment during this period. If you notice a moment that I missed and would like to contribute either materials or ideas to this project, please use the Contact button above to submit this information by email.


    Gordon, Rae Beth. Dances with Darwin, 1875-1910: Vernacular Modernity in France. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.
    Gordon, Rae Beth. "Natural Rhythm: La Parisienne Dances with Darwin, 1875-1910." Modernism/Modernity 10, 4 (Nov. 2003): 617-656.
    Hannavy, John. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York: Routledge, 2013.
    Kruger, Loren. "'White Cities', 'Diamond Zulus', and the 'African Contribution to Human Advancement': African Modernities and the World's Fairs." TDR: The Drama Review 51, 3 (Fall 2007): 19-45.
    Lindfors, Berth. "Charles Dickens and Zulus." in Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Show Business edited by Bernth Lindfors (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999): 62-80.
    Vinson, Robert T. and Robert R. Edgar. “Zulus Abroad: Cultural Representations and Educational Experiences of the Zulu in America, 1879-1945.” Journal of Southern African Studies 33, 1, (March 2007): 43-62.


Feel free to email me to provide some feedback on the project or to just say hello!

Liz Timbs

PhD Candidate, African History, Michigan State University

PhD Candidate, Michigan State University

Email: liz.timbs@gmail.com

Twitter: tizlimbs

Website: www.liztimbs.org