Here the author seems to like the idea of human exposition. He thinks that it is a good idea for exhibitions to be put up which demonstrate the costumes and ways of life of people from different cultures and different eras. The world exhibitions tend to increase the exchange value of commodities. These in turn create a framework in which the commodities’ intrinsic value is eclipsed. They open up a fantasy world that people enter into in order to be amused. The entertainment industry facilitates this by elevating people to the level of commodities. These tend to succumb to manipulation whilst also enjoying their alienation from themselves and from others.’ (The World as a Marketplace pg.344, para. 1, 1-7) He is not averse to people being exhibited for others to be able to learn from them. However he shows a sense of disappointment: ‘the observer does not stop to learn; rather he or she strolls, window-shopping in the department store of exotic cultures.’ (The World as a Marketplace pg. 355, para. 1, l 3-5) ‘ The display of touring or stationary human groups, especially Native Americans, for profit, entertainment, or public edification has a long and problematic history’. (The World as a Marketplace pg.345, para.2, l 1-3)
2) & 3) Explain in your own words, using quotations and citations when appropriate, two ways that the author supports her/his thesis. (10 points each)
Another example of the author supporting human exhibitions is shown here: ‘The result shall be such a wonderful exhibition of the works of man that even those of us who know in part what it is to be will be surprised and astounded when we see if from day to day as a grand whole’. (The World as a Marketplace pg.347, para. 2, l 10-13)
4) & 5) Explain in your own words, using quotations and citations when appropriate, two Technical Terms that the author uses. (10 points each)
Contrary to what we believe in the beginning of the article, we eventually discover that these people are being ‘exposed’ in order to be poked fun at. The technical term used by the author is ‘Exposition’ and the author explains this term when he gives us examples of how the exhibits are made fun of: ‘He would probably look much worse should he attempt to smile’ (The World as a Marketplace pg.360, para.1, l-7). In every stance, we find out that people from the Arab world are not considered to be equivalent human beings to the ones in the western world. They do not show pleasure and smile as we do, ‘These people do not express their pleasure by wreathed smiles.’ (The World as a Marketplace pg.359, para.2, l 5-6) ‘As Arabs go this is undoubtedly a happy family’ (The World as a Marketplace pg.360, para.1, l 4) implies that they are an inferior race.
Another technical term the author uses is the word ‘exhibit’ which in itself implies – something that is on show for the amusement of others. Already this word in itself is degrading and is intended to humiliate the ‘exhibits’. ‘It will be a jumble of foreignness – a bit of Fez and Nurenburg, of Sahara and Dahomey and Holland, Japan and Rome and Coney Island. It will be gorgeous with color, pulsating with excitement, riotious with the strivings of a battalion of bands, and peculiar to the last degree’. (The World as a Marketplace pg.351, para.1, l 1-6) The fact that the author uses the words ‘riotous and ‘peculiar’ shows his anticipation at making fun of others by laughing at them because they are ‘riotous’ and disassociating themselves with the exhibits because they are ‘peculiar’.
6) Identify what is at stake in the essay, and explain it as best you can. (10 points)
In this essay we are being told that there is nothing wrong with human exhibitions yet at the same time we are being told the opposite. We discover that although these live exhibits are laid out for our pleasure, many of the spectators just give them a fleeting glance and do not bother to interest themselves in their way of life and in their culture. They are considered as inferiors, people who have no opinion, no feelings and no real scope to their lives except to pamper to our needs. Therefore, although the prospect of having available information about other cultures and nations was a good one, it backfired because they were deemed inferior and made fun of. Another aspect of the issue is money. Many of these exhibitions were put up solely for the sake of making money and exhibitions using human exhibits went on for years if they made large profits.
7) Identify a part of the essay that you find the most interesting, and explain why it interests you. (10 points)
The most interesting part of this essay, in my opinion, is the fact that these people travelled all that way for so little money just so that they could demonstrate their way of life. They are proud people who want to make their way of life known to the western world. However this back fired because:
- The spectators wanted nothing to do with them and insisted in having a type of barrier put up to divide themselves from the exhibits
- The exhibits were photographed and the captions written about them were incorrect and degrading
- The spectators did not interest themselves in the exhibits as human beings but rather as animals or things to be ridiculed
- The western world was only interested in making money
8) & 9) Pose a developed, complicated question that we can use to spark class discussion, and fully answer it. (15 points each)
Compare the type of exposition of that period to the expositions of today. Is Disneyworld Epcot’s World Showcase comparable to the above? Why do you think that this is so/not so?
Are the spectators’ reactions and comments as well as the interest taken and information shared similar today at Epcot as they were in ‘The World as a Marketplace’? Why?
As we have seen in the essay from the book “The World as a Marketplace’, various nations and peoples were brought to the United States to share their way of life and to enlighten the American people about their folklore and cultures. This was a time when people were exhibited solely for amusement as were the freaks and fools. These people, who were brought to the United States with all good intention, were proud of their history and culture and went about exhibiting it to others. The spectators, however, were not ready to receive and accept other nations’ way of life. In their eyes, theirs was the only way of life and all others were considered to be inferior. They made fun of the exhibits way of dressing, the way they went about their work and they way they treated each other. Because this was foreign to them, they could not understand it and so made fun of it.
Not so today, where taking Epcot as an example, thousands of people visit these human exhibits every week and admire their costumes, learn from them, and take an interest in their history. People nowadays are not as close-minded as they were way back then. We do not find their way of life demeaning or inferior and people come from miles away to learn more about their way of life. Although we do find many people who are prejudiced against their culture, religion and nation, many more look to them for information and for a better way of living. We do not make fun of them but rather watch and listen to them in order to learn from them.
This is probably because today we are more open-minded. Most of us are well-travelled and have met different types of people from all over the world. We can understand different cultures and the world has become a smaller place. Apart from travelling, this is also largely due to the internet which has brought us all closer together. These days we eat Chinese meals, cook Asian and European meals and use many herbs and spices from Italy and the East. So, all in all, we have become more tolerant of each other and of the different cultures and instead of making fun of different cultures and folklore, instead we embrace them and include them in our own.
Hinsley C: The World as Marketplace at the World Fair’s Colombian Exhibition, 1893, 1988, Print