Expos, also known as World’s Fairs, are the world’s oldest and largest mega events, held every three to five years in host cities around the world since their inception in 1851 in London. Similar to the Olympics, which are world festivals of sports, Expos are festivals of culture, technology, innovation, design, and human achievement. Past Expos have seen a multitude of countries showcase innovations such as the mobile phone, the X-Ray Machine, and the ice cream cone.
Yet the history of presenting global cultures to U.S. audiences has not been without controversy. World’s Fairs have had a complex history that often relegated cultures and peoples to spectacle and stereotype, “other-izing” difference with “living” exhibits of cultures and people, which framed a skewed and shameful narrative on the history and future of “civilization” and progress.
Join WorldOregon and a panel of acclaimed historians and diplomacy experts for a rich conversation on Expos—past, present, and future—and their potential as platforms of soft power platforms with international audiences. A marvelous opportunity to explore broad questions around everyday diplomacy, race, culture, representation, justice, and inclusion and to learn through the lessons of history and contemporary storytelling how we think about and connect to this ever more interconnected world we share.
- Lisa Blee, Associate Professor of History, Wake Forest University, who has spoken and written extensively about the history and cultural politics of World's Fairs and Expos, and in particular, the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition & World Fair, held in Portland.
- Anna F. Kaplan, PhD, a renowned oral historian, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of State, who will discuss her extensive interviews with organizers and attendees of Expos from New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, and Seattle, between 1960-1984, as well as with Youth Ambassadors and Cultural Performers who represented the United States at Expos abroad.
- Kara Snesko, Senior Coordinator in the International Expositions Unit at the U.S. Department of State and project manager for the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
This program is made possible, in part, through the support of The National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Global Ties U.S.
Co-promoted with Oregon Historical Society