The South and The World
The Cotton States and International Exposition sought to increase the South’s international trading ties. The exposition’s planners attempted to draw exhibits and visitors from across the globe. But few countries actually participated in the exposition. Only Costa Rica had an actual exhibition building. Venezuela, Mexico, and Chile all sent exhibitions. From Europe and Asia only came private exhibitions from commercial companies. Some exhibits were simply advertisements for their company’s product, but others attempted to present items that represented their country.
The most “international” aspect of the Cotton States and International Exposition was the fair’s Midway Heights, an area of the exposition devoted to popular attractions and amusements. In the Midway were several “ethnographic” villages where visitors could supposedly experience authentic depictions of strange and foreign places .These Midway villages included a Chinese Village, a Dahomey Village, an Indian Village, a Gypsy Village, the Streets of Cairo Theater and Exhibit, and an Esquimaux Hut. A visitor had to pay an extra fee to see these exhibits and they were considered separate from the exposition. Although these villages purported themselves as being educational, the majority were simply entertainment. And in many ways, the villages helped to reinforce popular turn-of-the-century ideas of white supremacy and imperialism.
Click on an image below to learn more about the "enthographic" villages found at the exposition: