mega-events are potentially memorable because they are a special-kind of time- structuring institution in modernity ” (Roche, 2003: 102, emphasis in original). Like Roche, I examine how time and modernity are negotiated by a mega event, but rather than looking for this time-shaping capacity in the scale and cyclical occurrence of events I examine one particular event, that is Expo 2010. World fairs have been described as instrumental in creating the distinction between reality and representation, a dualism that has become central to the way we capture the modern world (Mitchell, 1988; Harvey, 1996). In the remainder of this chapter I 106 Penelope Harvey has begun the work of reading world fairs as simulacra in Hybrids4of4Modernity:4 Anthropology,4the4Nation4State4and4the4Universal4Exhibition (1996). Recent publications have hinted at the possibility of such a reading of Chinese mega events. Most notably, Price and Dayan’s Owning4the4 Olympics4takes off in an imaginary of the Beijing Olympics as “spectacle, festival, ritual, and finally as access to truth” and concludes: “Or should we rewrite MacAloon’s sequence in a style inspired by Baudrillard: ‘spectacle, festival, ritual, and finally… simulacrum-’” (Dayan, 2008: 400). To my knowledge none have followed through with an empirical analysis of what such a reading may look like in the Chinese case. explore what happens when we read the world fair – symbol of modernity – through the work of Jean Baudrillard – symbol of postmodernity. I suggest that we read Expo 2010 not only as an exercise of nation-building, but as shaping also the imaginary of the world as a holistic unit. Expo 2010 could easily be read as a representation of the world, as mimicry or a fake version of the real world beyond its gates. I read it instead as simulation . My key claim is that the world fair is everywhere, that in fact the world is a fair, and that this has serious consequences for the study thereof. The reading of the world fair as simulacrum shows how we may be mistaken to imagine Chinese experience as radically other to that of Western modernity, or postmodernity for that matter. It provides a different way of thinking about space, time and subjectivity . Importantly, I argue that Baudrillard, who is often accused of being intellectually uncritical or irresponsible (for example by Norris, 1992), can help us think differently about intellectual strategy in our study of such a simulacral harmonious world fair. I first outline Baudrillard’s discussions of the simulacrum and use this discussion to interrogate the “being” of the world fair. I argue that the fair is not a fake co py of a “real” world, but that as simulation it marks the breakdown of the distinction of the copy from the original, of the fair from the world. Having asked where the fair is, arguing that fairness is everywhere, anywhere and nowhere , I next ask when the fair is. I show
that the fair works through recycling, revival and reuse. I thereafter ask who is the fair through an exploration of what happens to subjectivity in the interactive technologies of the fair. I examine how our simulation as subjects and objects of interactive technologies
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- Winter '16
- Jeff Hannan
- International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, Infrastructure Investment Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank