1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

Happy Thanksgiving Season Indy Fans! Today’s interviewee is an exposé of mixing of cultures. A nice pairing to our holiday’s theme of meeting new peoples. We will be discussing the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. This Fair was an impressive and important spectacle that heralded the awareness of the bigger global world, but also exemplifies the making of the United State’s Gilded Age.   With us today is Dr. Rebecca Graff to discuss the history of international world’s fairs and findings from the 2008 archaeological excavation of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Can we simultaneously open our eyes to the greater world, yet glaze over the value of different cultures? Let’s find out about the progress and isolation was took place.

Dr. Rebecca S. Graff

Professor Rebecca GraffAs a historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-century urban United States, I explore the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, tourism, and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. My dissertation, “The Vanishing City: Time, Tourism, and the Archaeology of Event at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition,” was based on an archaeological and archival project focusing on the ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. This project was supported by the College, Department of Anthropology, and the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago, and by a Scherer Center Dissertation Year Fellowship from Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, University of Chicago. I have directed several archaeological projects in Chicago, most recently at the Louis Sullivan-designed Charnley-Persky House; a second excavation season is planned for summer 2015.

I earned my PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2011. I hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. At the University of Chicago, I taught undergraduate and graduate students as a preceptor and instructor in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS), and explored classic readings in social science theory as an instructor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division. I have directed or co-directed four archaeological undergraduate field schools for DePaul University and the University of Chicago. In 2013 I was honored to win the Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award from the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and am currently working on a volume to be published through the SHA. I have just returned to Chicagoland from a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences.


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