Tito in Africa – Picturing Solidarity

The Wende Museum
The Armory, Culver City, California
June 23 - October 20, 2019

 

Among the communist countries in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia was the odd one out. After the split between Stalin and Yugoslav state leader Josip Broz Tito in 1948, the country followed its own path toward socialism and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of countries that envisioned a “Third Way” between communism and capitalism. This model appealed to many so-called Third World countries, and Tito spent much time traveling to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to offer economic and technical support, forge academic and cultural relationships, and get access to raw materials and new markets. During his years in office, Tito made 169 state visits to 92 countries and hosted 175 heads of state. He was especially popular in Africa, where he was greeted as a “white friend of Africa.” Whereas the carefully staged photographs of Tito’s state visits to Africa from the collection of the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade emphasize friendship and solidarity, these images also betray a remarkable continuity of colonial stereotypes.