Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Human Zoo

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Human Zoo

Article excerpt

Directed by Hans Mulchi. $398. Icarus Films. Brooklyn, NY. 2011.

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The Human Zoo: The Final Journey of Calafate relates the shocking story of the late 19th-century kidnapping of indigenous Chileans from the southern tip of South America by European businessmen and scientific societies. The 25 Chileans, representing four separate groups from Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, were displayed as carnival attractions across Europe as if they were zoo animals. The Europeans' tragic, criminal, and racist behavior was the result of cultural assumptions implicit in European colonialism and a perverse interpretation of Darwin's newly minted theory of natural selection.

The native people in southern Chile today learn about the abductions through oral history, and historian Christian Baez and film director Hans Mulchi set out to trace the kidnapped people's voyage across the Atlantic and throughout Europe. They focus on the story of one boy, Calafate, who remarkably survived and was repatriated to Chile later in his life. With the help of researchers at the University of Zurich, the Chilean and Swiss teams have recovered the remains and personal effects of many of the victims, and the film follows the return of their remains to their native territory. …

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