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Sastre, Jaume
PhD student - Supervisor: Agustí Nieto-Galan
FPU Fellowship Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Department of Philosophy, UAB

Projecte  de tesis doctoral:

The politics of technological display in the interwar period

Why to display a machine? What does it tell us? What does it teach us? What is the cultural significance of exhibiting technology? In the nineteenth century the display and musealization of technology was a growing feature of western industrial capitalism, which had in world’s fairs the celebration of its material basis and its new consumer culture. World War I, with its technological horrors, put a temporary end to the internationalist rhetorics of the exhibitions, which had in turn always been nationalistic technological potlatches. World’s Fairs changed in their nature and the technical museum consolidated itself as a cultural institution in Europe and the United States precisely in the interwar period. Why?
My PhD project is on the politics of technological display in the interwar period, especially as staged in world's fairs and industrial museums. I look semiotically at museums of science and industry and world’s fairs as sites were images of technology were produced and consumed in the context of an ideological battle over the popularization of science and technology.
My MA Thesis (pdf) was on the public image of technology in the 1851 Great Exhibition, and dealt with the political economy incarnated in the display of machinery by looking at sources that could get us closer to the visitors' experience, such as novels, political pamphlets, engravings in illustrated journals, press reports, etc.
My current focus is the interwar period, and I will pay special attention to the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition, the world’s fairs in the United States in the 1930s (Chicago 1933 and New York 1939) and the consolidation of of industrial museums, mainly through the case study of the New York Museum of Science and Industry. In particular, my main interest is the political agenda of these new hands-on museums and how the political discourses surrounding technology found visual -and tactile!- expression in their carefully designed exhibits.