Fair nations: Displaying nationalism at the Paris 1867 Exposition Universelle and the St. Louis 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exposition
Brill, Laura Elise
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World's fairs have changed the global modern landscape, joining nations while also promoting nationalism and, at times, imperialist agendas. This thesis examines two prominent world exhibitions, the Paris 1867 Exposition Universelle and the St. Louis 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exposition, and it investigates the methodology each nation deployed to portray its identity through the representation of its own and other cultures. Particularly in their commemorations of colonial endeavors, each fair presented a national identity that reveals a particular ideology through exhibition classification systems. In particular, as I will show, the Paris Exposition focused on industry and the St. Louis Fair emphasized race. As this thesis will demonstrate, the 1867 Exposition Universelle and the Louisiana Purchase International Exposition are the best examples of the use of nationalism and "othering" in the form of exhibitions. As I will show, we can sum up these fairs in two very different ways, each of which reflects a different set of national priorities from cities that were attempting to present their respective nations as the most progressive of their time. Specifically, the French Exposition collected and surveyed machinery and consumer goods to display their nation as technologically progressive. By contrast, the United States presented their national pride through the celebration of their imperialistic endeavors, exhibiting Native Americans as well as non-western races deemed inferior by the U.S. Technological innovation was the most significant for France, whereas for the U.S., the St. Louis Fair provided the opportunity to further the ideology of Manifest Destiny and other racist ideas. The display of culture and progress at the Paris Exposition served as a paradigm for the St. Louis Fair; the display of French nationalism was superseded by the display of race at St. Louis. The structure and display of national pride at the 1867 Exposition developed and increased with each subsequent world's fair, leading to the imperial display of race at the St. Louis Fair.