Alexander C. T. Geppert
ifk Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2001 bis 30. June 2002

London vs. Paris: Imperial Exhibitions, Urban Space, and Metropolitan Networks, 1880-1930


Concentrating on seven universal, colonial and imperial exhibitions held in London, Paris and Berlin, this dissertation project analyzes the initiation, production and generation of imperial spaces in the fin-de-siècle metropolis. Conceptualizing exhibitions as "meta-media", as specific means of communication that encompass and incorporate other communicative technologies, special attention is devoted to questions of medialization, visualization and virtualization. Taken as dense textures stretched over time, exhibitions require both a close hermeneutic reading and a broad spatial analysis. Thus, it is possible to scrutinize their internal functioning while interactions with the surrounding city can simultaneously be analyzed.
With regard to methodology, this project explores the possibilities of a relational historiography that is both open to multiple perspectives and simultaneously attempts to consider mutual influences, perceptual interdependencies and transnational interrelations in a new form of "network" analysis. Central concepts encompass the notions of representation (Roger Chartier), spectacle (Guy Debord), space (Henri Lefebvre) and chronotope (Mikhail Bakhtin). Types of sources used include official catalogues and guides, published and unpublished reports by the various institutions involved, newspaper and journal articles, autobiographical accounts by visitors as well as contemporary maps and photographs.
By asking questions about ceremony, ritual and representation – and, likewise, of participation, reaction and reception – it is the interplay of commercial, spectacular and national elements within British, French and German imperial culture that this dissertation project examines. It will ultimately result in an analysis of the reciprocal imaginative geographies of "metropolis London" and Paris as the classic "capital of the nineteenth century" (Walter Benjamin) in a distinctly European context.


M.A., geboren 1970 in Mühlheim/Ruhr, Deutschland, Studium: Geschichte, Philosophie und Psychologie/Universität Bielefeld, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, University of California at Berkeley; Doktorand am European University Institute (Florenz)


U.a. Exponierte Identitäten? Imperiale Ausstellungen, ihre Besucher und das Problem der Wahrnehmung, 1870-1930, in: Ulrike von Hirschhausen und Jörn Leonhard (Hg.): Nationalismen in Europa: West- und Osteuropa im Vergleich (Göttingen 2001); True Copies: Time and Space Travels at British Imperial Exhibitions, 1880-1930, in: Hartmut Berghoff, Christopher Harvie, Barbara Korte und Ralf Schneider (Hg.): The Making of Modern Tourism: The Cultural History of the British Experience, 1600-2000 (London 2001); London from Without: German Perspectives on the British Metropolis, in: Journal of Victorian Culture 6 (2001); gem. mit Luisa Passerini (Hg.): European Ego-Histoires: Historiography and the Self, 1970-2000 (Athen/River Vale, NJ 2001).