Swedish Education Exhibitions and Aesthetic Governing at World´s Fairs in the Late Nineteenth Century

Christian Lundahl

Abstract


For many historians of education, the emergence of a modern education system after the mid-nineteenth century was a national and regional process, neatly and carefully closed off within the borders of the nation. However, these accounts have often disregarded the effects of the flows of cross-border ideas and technologies, such as international comparisons, lesson-drawing, policy diffusion and travel, as well as local adaptations and translations of education policy originating elsewhere. The purpose of this article is to shed light on the relations between Swedish education and the international scene when it comes to policy and practice formation. The field of study is the international World´s Fairs of 1862–1904. Looking at what Sweden displayed, and understanding how visitors perceived it, the article raises questions concerning how exhibitions like these worked as mediators of educational ideals. The focus will be on the dissemination of aesthetic ideals, and the article will show that the World’s Fairs were platforms for an aesthetic normativity that had governing effects locally as well as globally.

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