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Ethnological show business - that is, the displaying of foreign peoples for commercial and/or educational purposes - has a very long history. In the 19th and 20th centuries some of the most interesting individuals and groups exhibited in Europe and America came from Africa, or were said to come from Africa. Africans on Stage is about the show people, managers and impresarios, and the audiences who came to gape. It also examines how this phenomenon helped to shape Western perceptions of Africans.