Creating Illusions: Arabs in America's Fairs
A talk by Dr. Linda Jacobs, titled "Creating Illusions: Arabs in America's Fairs, 1876-1896. The end of the 19th century saw an explosion of local and international fairs in the United States. Americans were bitten with “fair mania;” more than 50 million people attended these fairs, when the U.S. population was only 63 million. Historians of Arab immigration concentrate on two fairs—the Centennial Exposition of 1876 and the Chicago Fair of 1893 — but Arabs participated in and sold goods at a dozen fairs, each of which changed the way they saw Americans and the way Americans saw them and imagined the Middle East. This talk explores Arab participation in the fairs and the effects these experiences had on early Arab immigration and immigrants in 19th century America.