Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

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Thesis or dissertation

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A Senior Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Honors in History.
Faculty Advisor: Antonio Feros


Nineteenth-century international exhibitions served as platforms for national competition and self-expression. Though over 4,000 miles apart, both Chicago, Illinois and Barcelona, Spain were animated by "second city" politics and featured a thriving industrial economy in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Yet while Chicagoans swelled with pride about the city they had helped resurrect from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, they also displayed patriotism toward an American nation that had overcome the Civil War and was rapidly amassing power. A burgeoning Catalan nationalist movement, on the other hand, contributed to a widening disconnect between the capital of Catalonia and a sputtering Spanish nation. These pivotal differences - along with historical circumstance - have informed the historical interpretation of Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and Barcelona's 1888 Universal Exposition. The ways in which the collective memory of these two world's fairs have diverged shed light on why, today, remembering Chicago's World's Fair has largely become an intellectual exercise while conjuring up memories of Barcelona's Universal Exposition persists as a critical tool for Catalan nationalists wishing to advance their interests and broadcast their nationalism to the global community.


Chicago, nationalism, Barcelona, Spain, United States, world's fair, collective memory, nineteenth century

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Date Posted: 12 May 2008