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By Peter H. Hoffenberg

The grand exhibitions of the Victorian and Edwardian eras are the lens in which Peter Hoffenberg examines the industrial, cultural, and social forces that helped outline Britain and the British Empire. He makes a speciality of significant exhibitions in England, Australia, and India among the good Exhibition of 1851 and the competition of Empire sixty years later, taking particular curiosity within the interactive nature of the exhibition adventure, the long term results for the members and host societies, and the ways that such well known gatherings published dissent in addition to celebration.Hoffenberg exhibits how exhibitions formed tradition and society inside and throughout borders within the transnational operating of the British Empire. The exhibitions have been vital to constructing and constructing a participatory imperial international, and every polity in that international supplied precise info, viewers, and indicates. one of the monitors have been advertisement items, operating machines, and ethnographic scenes. indicates have been meant to advertise exterior commonwealth and inner nationalism. The imperial overlay didn't erase major transformations yet defined and used them in fiscal and cultural terms.The exhibitions in towns equivalent to London, Sydney, and Calcutta have been dwelling and energetic public inventories of the Empire and its nationwide political groups. the method of establishing and eating such inventories persists this day within the cultural bureaucracies, museums, and gala's of recent realms, the entice culture and social order, and the activities of transnational our bodies.

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Extra resources for An Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War

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Vision at the exhibitions: empire and nation as popular pictures Such visitors were part of the quest to privilege vision and the ethnographic mode of picturing the world. 83 “Like sun painting [early photography] it [the Great Exhibition] speaks all tongues,” as it literally speaks to the eye. 84 Observation was not necessarily the universal language, a de facto imposition of authority, but that does not mean that commissioners did not attempt to make it so at the exhibitions. They intended vision to create its own sense of hierarchy, enabling social intercourse and the shared consumption of culture among the various constituent parts of the diverse Victorian and Edwardian British 01-C1483 01/22/2001 4:31 PM Page 18 18 / Chapter 1 Empire.

Some critics even attempted to appropriate the exhibitions for their own alternative visions of the host nations and the British Empire. In turn, the shows are historical moments in which we can view the sinews holding together the British Empire as well as English, Australian, and Indian societies. As with all visions and symbolic constructions of public culture, the display of objects and persons hid and mystified as much, if not more, than it revealed. While making some identities visible, the exhibition commissioners and government officials reduced others to the realm of invisibility.

Such shows were also object lessons for the authority of the cultural experts organizing the events and the state itself in both Britain and the colonies. Participatory 01-C1483 01/22/2001 4:31 PM Page 21 Exhibitions and the New Imperialism / 21 cultural practices, such as consumption, tourism, pageants, and machinesin-motion, were alternatives to modern political society and ones to which “both the great Parties” might consent. They created the enduring racial and economic categories of civil society and the underlying social links between the Commonwealth’s politically diverse national units.

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