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date: 24 March 2018

Mexico in World's Fairs and Expos

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.

From 1867 to 1929, governments promoted nationalism and industrialization through World Fairs in Europe and International Expositions in America. Mexico, which had recently achieved independence from Spain, became involved in fairs to bolster its economy and image, competing with other nations to sell local goods and offer investment opportunities to foreigners. Since the 1950s, Mexicans have encouraged commerce and industry while enthusiastically marketing their country as a touristic “wonderland.” Accounts of Mexico’s participation in World Fairs draw attention to the imperialism embedded in such events suggesting that they were deeply problematic. Defined as cultural palaces and trade shows, World Fairs have chronicled changing ideas about nationalism, modernity, and, more recently, branding. In the wake of the Revolution, Mexicans have recognized their strategic importance although a persistent theme in the literature is that these are inherently tiresome and expensive undertakings and a significant drain on economic and political life.