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Over the past twenty years or so, there has been an explosion in scholarship about world expos, variously called international expositions, international exhibitions, expositions universelles, and world’s fairs. Anthropologists, geographers, and historians have been joined by experts in museum studies and gender studies in trying to come to terms with the significance of these events for the modern world. The point of this essay is to suggest that, as scholars continue to examine these events, we bear in mind that world expos are not simply spectacles from the past, but cultural networks of global proportions that continue to map the future of the planet.

In the early 1990s, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) asked me to survey the scholarship that had been produced to date on world’s fairs (as they are still called in the United States) and world expos or world exhibitions (as they are known almost everywhere else). I observed that, although there had been some significant scholarly studies of expos, the overall quality and quantity of scholarship was uneven and lacked theoretical rigor (Rydell 1992). Over the past decade and a half, there has since been an explosion of scholarship that is very impressive. Alexander CT Geppert, Jean Coffey and Tammy Lau (2006) have compiled a bibliography that runs close to 90 pages, and the SIL has continued its own bibliography (Burke et al 2004). Both are essential starting points for scholars working on world expos, but neither is comprehensive: accessing publications in languages other than English is not always easy, and gaining information about recent publications, even in English, especially at the level of graduate theses, can be a formidable challenge. This is why conferences on international expos and publications such as this edited collection, Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World, are so important. Not unlike the world congresses held in conjunction with nineteenth-century exhibitions, these academic gatherings (and it is worth noting that several conferences on world’s fair scholarship have been held over the past few years) provide critical venues for exchanging ideas. They also give pause for thought about where future scholarship might be heading, and about why scholarship on international exhibitions is so timely.

Before turning to the matter of timeliness, let me relate a short story. For an upcoming exhibit on American world’s fairs of the 1930s at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, I decided to follow the lead of film-maker Eric Breitbart (2005), who, for his wonderful film about the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair, interviewed a number of senior citizens in the St Louis area to see what they remembered from their childhood visits to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Following in his footsteps, I headed to our local retirement centre, gave a talk on the world expos of the 1930s, and asked how many people in the audience had been to a fair or two during the Great Depression. Every hand in the room went up. The next day, I met with my undergraduate students and asked them if any of them had been to a world’s fair. ‘A world’s what?’ was the first question.

In the United States, there is a widespread sense that world’s fairs are ‘like, totally yesterday’, to capture another student phrase. There is good reason for this belief. The last world’s fair held in the US was in 1984. Plans for a major world expo in Chicago in 1992 crashed on the shoals of local politics. At about the same time, Congress forbade the US government from spending any public money on US representations at foreign expos. Convinced that world’s fairs were cultural dinosaurs and a waste of money, a bipartisan government commission charged with cutting government spending, especially in international agencies deemed non-essential to US interests, recommended that the US rescind its membership in the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), the international governing body charged with regulating these events. In 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell informed the BIE that the US was withdrawing from the international protocol governing world expos, thus saving US taxpayers a whopping US$28,000 or so annually in membership dues. The upshot of this can be simply stated: the US can never hold another officially sanctioned world expo unless it pays its back dues and resumes its membership in the general assembly of the BIE (BIE files).

While all of these shenanigans were underway in the United States, a funny thing was happening elsewhere on the planet. Caught up in the frenzy of globalisation, the rest of the world simply didn’t get the memo about world expos becoming extinct. World expos in Seville (1992), Lisbon (1998) and Nagoya (2005) were highly successful events, attracting tens of millions of people. In the case of Expo 2005 in Japan, the expo organisation was left with a hefty US$100 million profit after expenses. The lone disappointment – measured in terms of attendance expectations – in the recent history of expos was the 2000 Hanover Expo. Nonetheless, this spectacle brought more than 155 nations and 18 million exposition-goers to northern Germany to see exhibits, many of which highlighted the new millennium. In 2008, a world expo will be held in Zaragoza, Spain, and the largest world expo is currently taking shape in Shanghai. Scheduled to open in 2010 and dedicated to the theme of ‘better city/better life’, the Shanghai Expo is expected to attract in excess of 75 million visitors. For anyone curious about the shape of the future, a ticket to Shanghai for Expo 2010 might be a good investment. It might even be a good investment for the US government which, because of a law that prohibits public funds from paying for exhibits, is searching for private sponsors to represent the American people (exactly how many of these private sponsors will be subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies remains to be seen).

Why is it so important to underscore this recent history and call attention to future expo plans in an essay providing an assessment of recent trends in and new directions for scholarship about world expos held in the past? The answer may be as simple as being reminded of the proximity of the past. As American author William Faulkner (1951, 535) once put it: ‘The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.’ As world expos continue to develop blueprints for the future, it is the responsibility of scholars to assess the degree to which they depart from – or build upon – the precedents established at earlier expositions. In 1901, US President William McKinley (1901) declared that world expos are ‘timekeepers of progress’. Is that still true? If so, has the definition of progress remained the same? Additional scholarship on the medium of the world expo is not only necessary, it is urgent.

Perhaps the most important point to make about future directions for scholarship on world expos is that so much more needs to be done on individual expositions. Of the expositions held in my lifetime, several – notably the 1958 Brussels Universal Exposition (Devos and De Kooning 2006), the 1974 Spokane Exposition (Youngs and William 1996), and the 1992 Seville Universal Exposition (Harvey 1996) – have been subjected to detailed scholarly inquiry, but much work could be done to examine how foreign nations represented themselves at these spectacles. To be sure, other expositions have received some attention, notably Montreal’s Expo ’67 (Jasmin 1997) and New York’s 1964-65 World’s Fair (Samuels 2007). But these studies are not the final say on these expositions and open doors to further research that would link these fairs to the Cold War era.

When one steps back in time to the dozens of world expos held between 1851 and 1939, despite several superb works of recent scholarship, there remain enormous gaps in our knowledge. Peter Hoffenberg’s 2001 An Empire on Display is a superb comparative study of English, Australian and Indian expositions. Angus Lockyer’s dissertation (2000) on Japan’s rich exposition tradition is a brilliant explication of how Japan positioned itself vis-a-vis the industrialising powers of the West. Alexander CT Geppert’s “London vs. Paris: Imperial Exhibition, Transitory Spaces, and Metropolitan Networks, 1880-1930” (2004) looks at the role of major fairs in two European capitals as sites for constructing metropolitan spaces. Equally important is Peter van Wesemael’s Architecture of Instruction and Delight (2001), an insightful overview of international exhibitions that underscores both their didacticism and ideological nature. These studies notwithstanding, there are many world expos that are just beginning to receive their due. Indeed, as this Seize the Day collection makes clear, there is a molten core of scholarship bubbling to the surface that examines expositions held in Australia and the exhibits that were mounted by the antipodean colonies, and later the independent nation, at foreign expositions. But what of the expositions held in South Africa, India, and the Dutch and French colonies? A world of fairs still awaits discovery.

As valuable as it is to think in terms of individual expositions or comparative studies of several expos, it is also important to think in terms of approaches that have less to do with geography than theory, methodology and theme. Several avenues of research into world expos seem especially promising in this regard.

Performance studies, the interdisciplinary examination of how performers make meaning, inspired by the work of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998), is especially interesting. In response to some of my own work that emphasises the degree to which people on exhibit at world expos really were on exhibit as anthropological specimens (Rydell 1984), performance studies scholars treat the people who performed in ‘living ethnological exhibits’ as performers capable of making and imparting meaning through their performances. Several studies stand out in this genre, notably works by Gertrude Scott (1991) and Lester G Moses (1996). There is much to like about this recent work, but it is important to remember that, to the best of my knowledge, especially between 1851 and 1939, there is very limited evidence to suggest that the people who performed and were exhibited at world expos scripted their performances. It is worthwhile remembering the terrible episode from the 1904 St Louis exposition when a very famous anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution severed the heads of several deceased Filipino performers, removed their brains, and sent them to the Smithsonian for future study – a harsh and extreme way to treat people who are regarded primarily as performers (Rydell 1984, 165). For another slant on this same issue, one might consult Roslyn Poignant’s (2004) recent study of North Queensland Aborigines and their ‘performances’ in shows and expositions.

My point here is not to deny that people who performed at expositions were performers. Of course they were. But did they perform under circumstances of their own choosing? That question requires much more study to resolve and surely will involve research into the impresarios – and their colonial collaborators – who turned travelling troupes of Africans, Indians and American Indians, and other indigenous people into some of the most cosmopolitan travellers of the modernising era (Quizon and Afable 2004).

A related topic deserving of further consideration also turns on the matter of identity – especially ethnic identity. As a growing number of scholars are turning their attention to whiteness studies, this body of scholarship would benefit from examining how world expos crafted both ethnic and racial identities (Roediger 1991; Anderson 2003). Determining who was a member of an ethnic group, capable of being assimilated into the dominant political culture (as opposed to a racial group defined as virtually unassimilable) became one of the dominant tropes of world expos. As I have tried to show in my own work, the midway became an especially important site in this regard, with some people represented as more likely candidates for citizenship than ‘others’ (Rydell 1984).

For Australia and New Zealand, understanding how issues of ethnicity and race were negotiated at expositions has been at the heart of much existing research, including work in this volume (Willis 2008; Harris 2008; Edmonds 2008), and will be a key issue for future study. So will the ways expositions served as seedbeds for nurturing new political identities both within the Commonwealth and separate from it, as traced by discussions on the distinctive identities sought by the Australian colonies (Davison 1983; Summers 2008; Scott and Laurie 2008) and then by the new federated nation of Australia (Young 2008). It would be fascinating to examine through the expositions the construction of political and cultural symbols for Australia. For the record, it is worth noting that the American ‘pledge of allegiance’ was written for the Dedication Day exercises of the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (Rydell and Kroes 2005).

In addition to being deeply racialized landscapes, world expos have both shaped and reflected ideas about gender. Complicated by issues of race, ethnicity, and class, gender often proved (here, meaning “tested”) the rule of the white male elites who dominated (but did not always exclusively control) exposition management. To take just one example, Tracey Boisseau’s recent White Queen: May French Sheldon and the Imperial Origins of American Feminist Identity (2004) examines the life of a woman imperialist/explorer who made use of the world’s fair medium to shape a “hyper-racialized fantasy of white womanhood” (5) What Boisseau underscores with her nuanced reading of Sheldon’s life is how representations of gender at world’s fairs need to be read in context and with keen understanding that gender, like race, was not exactly an iron cage that totally constrained the ability of women to shape and reshape their identities.

Another fruitful area for future research in world expos, not just in Australia , but more generally, will be the biographies of the individuals involved in their organisation. Surely one of the more underappreciated aspects of this cultural history is the ability of individuals, either at the level of management or performance, to shape the contested cultural landscapes of world expos. Why would particular individuals devote so much of their lives to these events? Think, for instance, of senior mangers and directors – what was in it for them? They doubtless hoped to make money, but most world expos have failed to make money for their investors. The men (and they were mostly men) who served in the capacity of directors staked their own reputations on something much more important than profit. Their end game was something far less tangible, but no less real: culture. Through the expos they designed, they sought to shape values, to sustain particular ‘ways of seeing and knowing’ that would sustain their authority and power well into the future. For men like Henry Cole, one of the prime movers behind the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, winning the hearts and minds of the citizenry to a way of thinking that prized a particular form of economic and political order was more important than getting exposition goers to part with the price of admission (Bennett 1995).

I am not arguing here for a spate of biographies. Of greater interest would be studies that could show the connections between individuals who guided expositions and the political and cultural institutions that guided nations. Think, for instance, of Sol Bloom, the little remembered impresario of the Midway Plaisance at the World’s Columbian Exposition. A San Francisco showman, who had the good fortune to manage a troupe of ‘oriental’ dancers at the 1889 Paris Exposition, Bloom became the de facto manager of the Midway and parlayed his success there into a successful career as a Broadway producer and later into a successful career in the US Congress, ultimately becoming a member of the US delegation to the conference that resulted in the creation of the United Nations. Bloom (1948) was one of countless individuals who moved seamlessly between the world of expositions and the world of politics.

Indeed, it would be fascinating to build on the few studies that have been done concerning world expos as sites for cultural diplomacy. Most of us can conjure up an image of the 1937 Paris Exposition where the Nazi and Soviet Pavilions squared off, but we have probably forgotten that, between these two behemoths, the Spanish Pavilion defiantly exhibited for the first time Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. The jockeying of position between nations for appropriate space at world expos would be a subject worthy of detailed pursuit and would help the rest of us better understand the politics of national representation that will be unfolding in Shanghai during 2010 and beyond.

A better understanding of the politics of public health and disease would also benefit from the expanded study of world expos. Because world expos were explicitly imperialistic formations, it should not be surprising that they were sites of one of the concomitants of imperialism – disease. For instance, the nineteenth century’s last great smallpox epidemic originated on the fairgrounds of the World’s Columbian Exposition (Harris et al 1993). The cause and effect relationship was perfectly understood by Chicago’s public health establishment, but so well covered up that, to this day, few histories of the event make note of the thousands of deaths that occurred. Among the indigenous people from European colonies who came to the fairs to perform, but found themselves treated as ‘living types’, disease surely took its toll, although no one has yet compiled reliable data on this score. Perhaps because it was understood that they were incubators for disease, it should not be surprising to learn that expositions were sites for exhibiting new healthcare technologies and educating the public about the need for improved public health care (Brown n.d.). Infant incubators, for instance, made their debut at world’s fairs, but had found their way into hospitals by the early twentieth century. The same holds true for X-ray machines. Efforts to improve health could take some perverse turns. By the second decade of the twentieth century, ideas for improved health care became infected by the eugenics virus. Usually associated with Nazi Germany, eugenics had a wide following across the United States and Europe before the Nazis carried its logic to genocidal ends. But eugenics exhibits at world expos and at separate hygiene expositions are well worth additional study given that demonstrably perverse ideas and ideologies from the past do not so much disappear as seep into the cultural aquifer awaiting another crisis in national or global political or economic affairs to resurface (Rydell et al 2006).

One of the most important aspects of expositions that has not yet received serious attention is the contribution of world expos to engineering. Expositions are well known as laboratories for architectural and design innovation; they have not received nearly enough recognition for their contributions to building the infrastructure ranging from sanitation to public transportation that have made modern urbanisation possible. As David Nye (1992) has shown, the night-time illumination of world’s fair buildings rendered otherwise boisterous crowds silent as they watched the nightscape of the planet change before their eyes. The effects of engineering innovations at Australia’s expositions would be fascinating to explore.

Several essays in the Seize the Day collection call attention to the ‘civilizing mission’ of Australia’s role in expositions, emphasising the importance of the fairs for the fine and decorative arts (Jordan 2008; Inglis 2008). It would be interesting to examine in greater depth the role of the expositions in the literary imagination, as Susan Martin (2008) begins with her study of exhibitions in nineteenth-century Australian women’s writing. Charles Dickens (1851) wrote a brief parody of the official catalogue of the 1851 London Great Exhibition; Hans Christen Andersen (1868) wrote a fairy story about the 1867 Paris Exposition. Other world expos have featured prominently in world literature. Henry Adams (1961) made the 1893 Chicago and 1900 Paris expositions the centerpiece of his autobiography. Recent writers like Eduardo Mendoza (1988), E. L. Doctorow (1985), and Erik Larson (2004) have all foregrounded particular expositions in their explorations of the human imagination. No less important, but often forgotten, is the American author, Marietta Holley (1893; 1904), the ‘female Mark Twain’, who wrote a series of novels about a farm family’s adventures at multiple fairs – all intended to promote the cause of women’s suffrage.

Until recently, the role of world expos in fostering new forms of musical expression – as well as the institutional infrastructure to sustain it – has been ignored. Who remembers Richard Wagner’s awful piece that was commissioned by the promoters of Philadelphia’s 1876 exposition? Wagner was hardly alone in finding expositions important venues for presenting compositions. A range of composers from Camille Saint-Saens to Edward Elgar to Jules Massenet and Edgar Varese have found world expos useful sounding boards. And one should never forget the influence of the 1889 Paris Exposition’s Javanese Village on Claude Debussy or the syncopated sounds of Chicago’s Midway on Scott Joplin (Fauser 2005). Expositions inspired an array of ‘hit’ tunes, including ‘Meet Me in St Louis, Louis,’ the unofficial anthem of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. They also assembled enormous orchestras and choirs, sometimes numbering in the thousands of performers, to celebrate special occasions at expositions. The influence of world expos on the soundscapes of the modern world is just beginning to get the attention it deserves, but much more can be done on this score as well.

Expositions were supposed to be heavenly cities for the promotion of high culture; they often became dens of iniquity. As researchers look for sources about world expos, they should not neglect the vice reports of local police departments or, if they survive, the police reports from exposition police operations. As Keith Walden (1997) has shown in his fascinating account of Toronto’s expositions, world expos were sites of ‘carnival’, amazing inversions of power and authority, where consuming pleasures often trumped the stated educational mission of exposition. The role of expositions in nurturing the rise of mass cultural industries that commodified sexuality and simultaneously made sexuality one of the ‘weapons of the weak’ is deserving of much greater attention from historians.

Local police officials kept careful track of ‘vice’ and criminal activities at expositions. Other intelligence units also found expositions fertile grounds for gathering information. French secret service agents, for instance, kept tabs on radicals who participated in various anticolonial meetings held in association with expositions. And the US government deployed a dazzling array of military and civilian agents to Brussels in 1958 to gather information about the Russians and their allies (Rydell 1993b). Accessing records with this information is never easy, but might provide fertile ground for gaining insight into the strategic importance of the participation of many nations, including Australia, in foreign expositions across the twentieth century.

Expositions were not only excellent sites for gathering political intelligence. They were terrifically important sites for intellectuals and policy makers to share ideas about everything ranging from copyrights and patents to anthropology and fisheries. By 1889, the world’s congress movement had become a mainstay of Victorian-era expositions. Well into the twentieth century, academic meetings held in conjunction with world expos brought together first-rate thinkers and statesmen to address issues of contemporary concern. Australians participated in these meetings at foreign expositions, for instance sending delegates to the Women’s Congress at the Columbian Exhibition at Chicago in 1893 (Sear 2008). But it would be interesting to explore these intellectual and professional connections further, especially in light of the importance of expositions for transferring knowledge and for developing internationally recognised protections for intellectual property.

There are many other research areas to explore when it comes to world expos. Because they were visually mediated events, they open many windows on the history of photography and commercial illustration (Sweet 2008). Were visitors to Australian fairs allowed to bring their own cameras or did they have to pay for the privilege? Did Australian expositions become the fountainhead of the postcard industry in the same way expositions did in the United States? What aspects of the expositions were featured on Australian-produced postcards: new technologies or landscapes of exposition grounds? Or were there views featuring so-called ‘primitive’ people as was the case elsewhere in the world (Rydell 1998)?

And what about the role of expositions in promoting tourism within Australia and between Australia and other nations? The role of expositions in promoting tourism has long been recognised, but insufficiently developed in the scholarly literature. Thomas Cook got his start organising tours to the Crystal Palace Exhibition. President Franklin Roosevelt saw how world’s fairs during the 1930s could be used to promote internal tourism and re-instill patterns of consumer spending amongst a public prone to hold on to every last penny because of the Great Depression. How, as Australian scholarship has begun to explore (Barnes and Jackson 2008), did Australian expositions and Australian exhibits at foreign fairs attempt to frame an image of Australia? What sights or parts of the Australian experience were privileged for display, and what sights or places ignored?

And what about the tourists themselves and their experiences? Historians are often plagued by the paucity of data about how audiences responded to happenings in popular culture. A recent study by Manon Niquette and William J Buxton (1997) may hold promise for mining reactions of ordinary Australians to the expositions that shaped their public and, perhaps, private identities. Equally important to remember is the fact that world expos generated an abundance of souvenirs – objects that would stimulate memories of events filled with meaning for so many people. There are terrific collections of world’s fair artifacts around the world, including spectacular graphic art, furniture and the usual array of knick-knacks. But there is not much in the scholarly literature to help us understand how to ‘read’ these objects so lovingly tucked into luggage by people returning from their pilgrimages to world expos. Why did people want to remember their experiences at world expos? An octogenarian interviewed by film-maker Eric Breitbart about the 1904 St Louis fair explained the hold of that exposition in these terms: ‘We learned about the world.’

By taking the educational rhetoric and authority of expositions seriously, a growing number of scholars have examined the direct connections between international expositions and museums. Work by Tony Bennett (1995), Annie Coombs (1994), Steven Conn (1998), David Dunstan (1996), and Robert Rydell (2007) has laid the groundwork for further explorations of how seemingly ephemeral events like international expositions have left enduring institutional legacies in multiple cities around the globe. No one better understood this connection between fairs and museums than some of the earlier organizers of both, for instance Henry Cole in England and G. Brown Goode in the United States. “To see is to know,” is the way Goode put it. There is much more to be learned about museum cultures around the globe by examining their origins in the “exhibitionary cultures” spawned by international exhibitions.

As scholarship on world expos continues to expand, my hope is that scholars, too, can come to terms with the power – and the limits of the power – of world expositions to develop blueprints for and give meaning to the globalising world. Discussions of globalisation, may sometimes gain their lustre from the mistaken idea that globalisation is something new under the sun. Discussions of the ‘world’s progress’ (the name comes from a popular Victorian-era magazine) have been aided and abetted by world expos since 1851 and would be greatly enriched by more careful attention to the history of world expos and their impact on the modernising world. Several published books over the last decade provide wonderful platforms for future scholarship into this area.

The first is Penelope Harvey’s Hybrids of Modernity: Anthropology, the Nation State and the Universal Exhibition (1996), organised around her examination of the 1992 Seville Exposition and the representational spaces occupied by nation states and corporations. For Harvey, world expos have become crucial sites for the contest between multinational corporations and nation states, with the Seville Expo representing the ‘harnessing of national identities to corporate ends’ (102). The extent to which expos have charted and nurtured the triumph of multinational corporate capitalism is well worth additional exploration, especially the degree to which national pavilions have become showcases for corporate shows and the degree to which world expos have hastened the process of globalisation.

Geographer Allan Pred makes a similar point in his Recognizing European Modernities: A Montage of the Present (1995) which examines the Stockholm Exhibitions of 1897 and 1930 and their legacy for Stockholm’s present Globe Arena. According to Pred, expos have always been hyperspaces and metaphors where power relations, played out in the arena of representational spaces, have advanced the economic and political forces associated with modernisation. Expos, Pred argues, have fundamentally shaped three phases of modernity: industrial modernity, high modernity and hypermodernity (21), each associated with ruptures in the world’s social and economic systems. Functioning rather like lifebuoys for the advanced capitalist countries as they struggled to stay afloat amidst rising tides of social, political and economic turbulence, world expos seem mired in raging contradictions, part of the problems of modern times, not part of the solution.

A somewhat more optimistic view about world expos is expressed in Fair America (Rydell et al 2000), an analysis of America’s world expo tradition. This book takes up the question of whether world expos have become cultural dinosaurs or whether it is possible for them to shed their skin and reinvent themselves as agents of a new way of thinking about a planet facing profound issues of health disparity, income inequality and environmental degradation. In other words, can a medium that bore chief responsibility for identifying, in the popular imagination, the meaning of progress with industrialisation, construct new ways of imagining ‘progress’ as creating environmental sustainability and bringing about social justice? This is a tall order for a medium that helped human beings evolve the cultural and ideological armour that, one could argue, have put human beings on the fast track towards extinction as a species. But if the goal is to give human beings a shelf life on the planet that approximates that of the dinosaurs, then, perhaps, world expos can help human beings correct our seemingly forced march towards today’s equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits that swamped an earlier species that once exercised dominance over the planet. (Rydell et al 2000)

Scholars who study world expos, it seems to me, need to begin by remembering the proximity of the past. Pictures of people who attended nineteenth-century expositions can still be found in many family photo albums. Interviews are still possible with people who vividly remember the world expos of the inter-war period. And, it is very difficult to find a major museum in the world that has not had its collections – even its basic taxonomy – affected by expositions. The same, of course, can be said of modern architecture, so deeply influenced by the ‘MySpace’-like building opportunities afforded to architects by expos. World expos have indeed defined the modern world. Whether they can define the ‘next modern’, to borrow Paul Greenhalgh’s (2005) phrase, and move us towards new ways of thinking about human responsibility in an age threatened by nuclear/ecological catastrophe is a challenge for exposition organisers; it is also a challenge for scholars who turn their attention to world expos. No, scholars do not have crystal balls. But we do have crystal palaces to ponder, crystal palaces that gave (and continue to give?) form and substance to the modern world.


I am grateful to the organizers of the ‘Seize the Day’ symposium held in Melbourne in October 2006 and to the participants for expanding my knowledge of the considerable research efforts underway in Australia to analyze Australia’s exhibition traditions. I am especially grateful to Elizabeth Willis, Louise Douglas, David Dunstan, and Richard Gillespie for sharing their insights and to Kate Darian-Smith for her editorial suggestions.


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Cite this chapter as: Rydell, Robert W. 2008. ‘New directions for scholarship about world expos’. Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World, edited by Darian-Smith, Kate; Gillespie, Richard; Jordan, Caroline; and Willis, Elizabeth. Melbourne: Monash University ePress. pp. 21.1–21.13.

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   by Kate Darian-Smith, Richard Gillespie, Caroline Jordan, Elizabeth Willis