Shanghai Expo: The World in a City

By David Rowe

20 February 2011

CCR held Shanghai Expo: The World in a City, a free public event for the City of Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival, at Artspace in Woolloomooloo on 3 February. Researchers (Hart Cohen, Cameron McAuliffe, and David Rowe) and PhD Candidates (Scott East and Hilary (Hongjin) He) gave short presentations based on their contributions to CCR’s program of investigation into the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Videos by Juan Francisco Salazar and Sally Leggo were also shown, with a photographic exhibition by Tim Winter in the foyer. The theme of Shanghai 2010 was ‘Better City, Better Life’, and the event addressed the cultural dimensions of world fairs and urban renewal in the 21st century.

About 60 people attended, including several members of Sydney’s Chinese community, academics from other universities, people who do business in China, and tourists who had visited Expo. Plenty of space was made for open discussion, which was lively and informed, and particularly revolved around the significance of Expo for China’s global position and for China-Australia relations, in symbolic, political and economic terms. Members of the audience who had been to Expo were also keen to reflect on their experience of the various exhibitions, the enthusiasm for ‘Expo Passports’, and the endurance of queues!

Before and after the presentations, there was a good opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and opinions on the largest and most expensive World’s Fair over some cool refreshments provided by CCR. The event provided some diversionary relief from Sydney’s record heatwave, and is the first of a series of ‘outreach’ activities that CCR plans for 2011. An edited book based on the research, tentatively entitled Shanghai Expo: The World In A City, is in an advanced stage of preparation.