This activity is something that I do in our Imperialism Unit, as way for my students to understand the cultural and social mindset of the Western Europeans and the United States during this time period. Over the past couple of years I was finding it very challenging to communicate the racism, cultural superiority, and bigotry that helped drive and justify imperialism, and this lesson accomplishes just that. I did it for the first time this school year, 2015, and my students were appalled and incredibly engaged throughout the entire lesson. This is one of those lessons where you will have a couple of students hanging out after the bell to continue talking about what just happened in class, as I did in both of my classes last week.
This is for my US History II class, which consists of mostly 11th graders. It is designed to have the students investigate the Spanish-American War and work on several skills simultaneously, including source analysis, video analysis, critical thinking, large group discussion skills, and linking the past to the present. Students will be reading an excerpt from Pamela Newkirk’s Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga and answering critical thinking questions. Then you will have them watch a video clip detailing Human Zoos and how they exploited and abused various indigenous peoples around the world.
Keywords: Imperialism + racism + Ota Benga + human zoos + world fairs + cultural superiority + racial superiority + eugenics + 20th century racism + indigenous peoples + white supremacy + Bronx Zoo + Bronx Zoo monkey house + discrimination
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