Indigenous people have been travelling to London – willingly or otherwise – since 1502. They have come as captives and diplomats, missionaries and performers, activists and artists. Drawing on this long history of Indigenous engagement with the heart of empire, this talk places the visual record of Indigenous presence in London at the centre of the story. By reading English images of Indigenous visitors against the grain, grounded in Indigenous studies approaches, we can presence Indigeneity, both past and present, in urban spaces where that Indigeneity is assumed to be absent or at best doomed and anomalous. In addition to looking at the visual archive of Indigenous visitors, this talk will foreground those visitors’ own perspectives on and critiques of both London and its empire. The talk will also pay particular attention to Indigenous histories of the area around the Strand, offering an opportunity to think about the ways in which the Courtauld Institute itself is embedded in larger stories of empire, settler colonialism, and Indigenous resistance.
Organised by Dr Alixe Bovey (The Courtauld)