File(s) under permanent embargo
Staging modernity: the Semarang international colonial exhibition, 1914
journal contributionposted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by J Coté
The international exhibitions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are now generally seen as sites for the dissemination of an evolving discourse on modernity's primary theme: progress. These technological and cultural spectacles represented 'the self-congratulatory pride' of the bourgeoisie in their attainment of world power (Corbey 1994:60). The didactic function of international exhibitions lay embedded in their carefully arranged, itemised and annotated displays, as well as in the very architecture within which such displays were housed. It was a pedagogy palely echoed in every elementary classroom and school textbook of the newly created mass education systems of the day (Cote 2000a). The exhibitions were also modern in their embrace of the mass audience and their intentionally populist focus. An exhibition was intended to provide the visitor, already touched by a modern curiosity, with personal access to the wonders of modernity.