Beijing Games Call To Mind Our 1893 Fair

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a professor of history at the University of California at Irvine. He writes in the Chicago Times:

What’s the value of comparing 1893 and 2008?

First, it adds a new twist to a theme explored in some of the best recent China reportage—namely, that Americans should think of the People’s Republic of China as following a trajectory unprecedented in world history yet also undergoing shifts that should be familiar from our past.

In Leslie T. Chang’s excellent forthcoming book, “Factory Girls,” the former Wall Street Journal reporter listens to the stories of cell phone-using, sneakermaking migrant workers in Chinese boomtowns and is reminded of the heroines in tales by Theodore Dreiser—who, incidentally, covered Chicago’s fair as a cub reporter.

In his best-selling novel’s subtitle, Larson says Chicago’s was the “Fair that Changed America.” This may be stretching the point. But the controversial, sometimes overly ambitious mega-event of 1893 dramatically altered how the host country was viewed, and how it viewed itself.

The extravaganza’s spectacles and scandals, its buildings and its bravado convinced many that, for better or worse, a new major player had arrived in world affairs.

Surely the same could be said of the Beijing Olympics.


Subscribe to CDT


Browsers Unbounded by Lantern

Now, you can combat internet censorship in a new way: by toggling the switch below while browsing China Digital Times, you can provide a secure "bridge" for people who want to freely access information. This open-source project is powered by Lantern, know more about this project.

Google Ads 1

Giving Assistant

Google Ads 2

Anti-censorship Tools

Life Without Walls

Click on the image to download Firefly for circumvention

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.