Displaying Economic Knowledge
Dear Sophie and Claire-Lise, thank you for this wonderful paper – I very much enjoyed it. I was especially grateful for your attention to the relationship between past and present, and the self-knowledge practices – through graphics, and participatory practices - you explored were fascinating. I think @jona and @kate_hill would really enjoy it if they haven’t seen it already.
The material on the live demonstrations was incredible. Did you have a sense of how the women felt about being involved in these ways? I wondered if you’d read the work of Saloni Mathur (Mathur, Saloni. "Living Ethnological Exhibits: The Case of 1886." Cultural Anthropology 15.4 (2000): 492-524) and Rebecca M Brown (Displaying Time: The Many Temporalities of the Festival of India. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2017) on the perspectives of workers/performers in these kinds of expo situations? If you haven’t, I’d really recommend it. Thanks again, I really enjoyed it, Claire Wintle
Thank you for your kind words! Your question is absolutely relevant as women were key actors of the social reform movement. Unfortunately, we don't have additional information about women specifically. It is hard to find any evidence of the actual effects of such participatory media on the spectators, especially women whose opinion is (not surprisingly!) underrepresented in the primary sources available. However, we'll keep looking!
Thank you for pointing out Mathur’s and Brown’s work, which seems to have a lot in common with our own research– we actually didn’t know about them. Along the same lines, you might be interested in Frans Lundgren's work about Francis Galton’s experiments and social museums of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are very inspiring and proved to be meaningful ressources to us (Frans Lundgren, “The politics of participation: Francis Galton’s Anthropometric Laboratory and the making of civic selves”, British Journal for the History of Science, vol. 3, no 46, 2011; Frans Lundgren, “Making Society a Public Matter”, in Rickard Danell, Anna Larsson, Per Wisselgren (ed.), Social Science in Context. Historical, Sociological and Global Perspectives, Lund, Nordic Academic Press, 2013, 64-77). Kind regards, Claire-Lise.
@cdeblue This was such an interesting presentation, so much food for thought, and the reference on social museums looks great! I was reminded of a strange collision of 'hygienic housing' and 'exotic other' displays - Ballymaclinton at various London exhibitions in the early twentieth century, supposedly about improving housing in Ireland but entirely populated by young women chosen for their clear skin etc. who then had to ride around on donkeys and other picturesque activities. Apart from being 'charming', young women were likely seen as easier employees - male demonstrators at Manchester's Jubilee Exhibition of 1887 went on strike! Some further info here
Sophie and Claire-Lise, indeed, what a great presentation, thank you!
Your discussion of the Swiss social museum reminded me, of course, of the work of Neurath in Vienna -- but I hadn't seen these examples before (which might be a whole other discussion about the way certain exhibitions end up canonised whereas others are forgotten…)
Again, thank you!
@kate_hill Thank you Kate for your nice feedback and for sharing with us your paper about the circulation of "Old Villages" or "cities" at international exhibitions! The issue of co-production is fascinating and provides to some extent an alternative narrative to the "exhibitionary complex" (Bennett) theory, which is highly compelling. Thanks again!
@jona Hi Jona, thank you for your enlightening comment! The Gesellschafts- and Wirtschaftsmuseum is certainly the best-known social museum of the inter-war period and it is not easy to find evidence and archival material about other social museums in Europe and in both Americas. The Swiss social museum provides an outstanding insight into the many attempts that were made at the time to popularize statistical and economic knowledge. Yet it has scarcely been mentioned by scholars so far. I am olanning to do further research on that topic in the following months and hope to be able to publish a paper soon after. In case you are interested in the history of social museums and to go beyond Otto Neurath's museum itself, I highly recommend the following book about the Social Museum of Harvard University (2012). Kind regards, Claire-Lise
Dear Claire & Sophie, I sincerely enjoyed your so innovative topic - you clearly highlight how (and why) economic matters had been exhibited and displayed. No doubt that 19th world's fairs did create a kind of model that has to be considered outdated by the early 20th century (I studied the topic in an upcoming article dedicated to the biennals), not to mention that they expected to illustrate a typical Western self-content vision of the world.