Orientalism and Middle Eastern Culture at The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair
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The 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago celebrated the 400 year anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the Americas and strove to be the most lustrous exhibition to date. My research focuses on this Exposition and its Middle Eastern exhibits. The presence of Middle Eastern culture could be observed in borrowed motifs in art, architecture, and in the Midway Plaisance located outside the main parts of the Exposition, where people from across the globe set up temporary spaces, stayed, and explored as part of an “authentic experience” of a particular country. I will be investigating the performative and stereotypical aspects of the Middle East displayed in the Midway Plaisance and the exploitation of the people who were showcased and exhibited, I explore how methods of appropriation and exploitation served to dehumanize and fetishize Middle Eastern people and culture.