World's Fairs in the Cold War: Science, Technology, and the Culture of Progress

World's Fairs in the Cold War: Science, Technology, and the Culture of Progress


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The post-World War II science-based technological revolution inevitably found its way into almost all international expositions with displays on atomic energy, space exploration, transportation, communications, and computers. Major advancements in Cold War science and technology helped to shape new visions of utopian futures, the stock-in-trade of world’s fairs. From the 1940s to the 1980s, expositions in the United States and around the world, from Brussels to Osaka to Brisbane, mirrored Cold War culture in a variety of ways, and also played an active role in shaping it. This volume illustrates the cultural change and strain spurred by the Cold War, a disruptive period of scientific and technological progress that ignited growing concern over the impact of such progress on the environment and humanistic and spiritual values. Through the lens of world’s fairs, contributors across disciplines offer an integrated exploration of the US-USSR rivalry from a global perspective and in the context of broader social and cultural phenomena—faith and religion, gender and family relations, urbanization and urban planning, fashion, modernization, and national identity—all of which were fundamentally reshaped by tensions and anxieties of the Atomic Age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822945789
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 09/24/2019
Edition description: 1
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Arthur P. Molella is curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, for which he was founding director. He is coeditor of Inventing for the Environment and Places of Invention and coauthor of Invented Edens: Techo-Cities of the 20th Century and World’s Fairs on the Eve of War. He is a member of the Society for the History of Technology and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the National Academy of Inventors and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Scott Gabriel Knowles is professor and head of the department of history at Drexel University. He is a research fellow of the Disaster Research Center of the University of Delaware. Knowles is the author of The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America and editor of Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The World's Fair in of the Era of the Cold War: Science, Technology, and the Culture of Progress Arthur P. Molella Scott Gabriel Knowles 3

Part I Setting the Stage: The World's Fair in the Era of the Cold War

1 Expo '58: Nucleus for a New Europe Stuart W. Leslie Joris Mercelis 11

2 Soviet-American Rivalry at Expo '58 Anthony Swift 27

3 Atoms for Peace in Brussels and Osaka: World's Fairs and the Shaping of Japanese Attitudes to Nuclear Power Morris Low 46

Part II Theater of Conflict: North America and the Cold War State

4 Bringing the Fair to Town: Harrison "Buzz" Price and International Expositions in the United States after 1945 James D. Skee 57

5 "The Future Isn't What It Used to Be": Optimism and Anxiety, 1939 and 1964 Robert H. Kargon 66

6 1964 and the State of the City Katie Uva 77

Part III Theater of Conflict: North America and Cold War Culture

7 Advancing an Optimistic Technological Narrative in an Age of Skepticism: General Electric and Walt Disney's Progressland at the1964-1965 New York World's Fair Michelle Demeter 87

8 The Human Spirit in an Age of Machines: The Pietà and the Computer at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair Arthur P. Molella 96

9 Cold War Food: Consumption and Technology at the New York World's Fair, 1964-1965 Emanuela Scarpellini 109

10 Billy Graham: The Fifth Dimension at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair Mary Ann Borden 118

11 "Massy and Classy": Dressing American Women at Expo '67 Daniela Sheinin 128

12 "The Changing Role of Women in a Changing World": Universal Womanhood at HemisFair '68 Abigail M. Markwyn 137

Color plates follow page 150

Part IV Theater of Conflict: Asia and Australia

13 A Garden City for Progress and Harmony: Singapore at the Osaka 1970 Expo Elian F. Spero 161

14 Cultural Diplomacy Down Under: US Sports Diplomacy at Brisbane's Expo '88 Martin J. Manning 172

Part V Endings and New Beginnings

15 The Cold War, a Cool Medium, and the Postmodern Death of World Expos Luca Massidda 183

16 Does the World's Fair Still Matter? Discovering New Worlds after 1989 Scott Gabriel Knowles 194

Notes 213

Bibliography 257

Contributors 277

Index 281

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