IATH Fellow Cristina Della Coletta, Professor of Italian, is the recipient of a $13,000 grant from the Office of Research, Center for International Studies at UVA. This grant is awarded to establish university-wide research seminars on aspects of international studies.
Entitled Dissenting Scripts and Other Voices on the World's Fairs' Stage: 1850-1915, Della Coletta's seminar will engage scholars in cultural studies, history, women's studies, sociology, architecture, and literature. It will take the form of a series of talks this spring and fall. A list of speakers will be forthcoming.
During the Age of Nations and Empires, World's Fairs universalized an eminently Eurocentric, technocratic, and metropolitan ethos, based on the pursuit of progress, modernity, and the advancement of Western civilization. This master narrative, however, presented fissures and displayed contradictions that opened a space for the counter-hegemonic discourses of local communities, immigrant groups, non-Western cultures, and women.
Seminar discussions will strive to uncover how even the monolithically centralized ideology of the World's Fairs contained "other" voices that haunted the Eurocentric script from within as well as from without.While obtaining recognition and representation on the fairgrounds, these groups had to compromise with the World's Fairs' ideology, producing an often exoticized and objectified self-representation, which confirmed, while simultaneously striving to challenge, the Eurocentric paradigm.Investigation of the complex exchanges between subordinate and hegemonic discourses in the World's Fairs' arenas will occur in an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural context.
Prof. Della Coletta has been developing Turin 1911: The World's Fair in Italy (http://www.italyworldsfairs.org), a digital project centered around the only universal exposition held in Italy, in collaboration with IATH since 2007. The project aims to preserve an endangered cultural patrimony and promote understanding of the ways in which this fair (and World's Fairs in general) conveyed specific cultural and ideological messages.