Beginning with the earliest international exhibition at London’s “Crystal Palace” in 1851, “world’s fairs” became a prominent stage for the presentation of peoples and cultures of Asia to a world audience. With its rich, vibrant and diverse histories and cultures, Asia as represented at these universal expositions provided many fairgoers with their first encounter with Asia and helped shape their understanding of the world. These expositions served as a grand stage that displayed a complex history of conflicts, contradictions, and engagement of Asia with the world. This online exhibition focuses on the presence in these early international fairs of Asian cultures and the stimulus they gave to transcultural interactions in areas as diverse as performing arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, print, and even food.
Following a brief project overview by Robert Murowchick, Prof. Cathy Yeh will present the interplay of Asian and modern Western dance at the 1900 Paris fair; Prof. Alice Tseng will explore implications of the Japanese Ho-o-den Phoenix Pavilion at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition; Prof. David Eckel will introduce his ongoing work with his students on the enormous impact of the presentation of Asian religions at the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, and other BU students will briefly present their evolving projects that explore Chinese arts and crafts at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, anthropology and Asian cultures at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, the “Philippine Village” and the imperial Chinese exhibition at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, the reasons behind and impact of the recreation of Angkor Wat at the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exposition, and other themes currently under development. Lots of food, and lots of fun—and we welcome your ideas and participation as this project expands!