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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Troubling modernity : spatial politics, technologies of seeing and the crisis of the city and the World's Exhibition in fin de siecle Budapest Barenscott, Dorothy


Conflicts and concerns around representing ethnic, class, and national identities within the context of modern national ideologies have come to the fore in recent years. Yet these same problems were current and actively being negotiated in the nineteenth century in Central and Eastern Europe's Austro-Hungarian Empire. This dissertation takes as its focus the role of visuality, new technologies, and social space in the articulation of competing identities in fin de siècle Budapest, Hungary. In 1896 the city hosted a Millennial Exhibition designed to simultaneously celebrate the history of the Hungarian people and the entry of Hungary into the larger European world economy. But, preparations within the city of Budapest itself--urban modernization, a state of the art transportation system, new architectural projects, and the design of mass entertainments--argued in different ways for Hungary's legitimacy as a progressive and modern state within the broader jurisdiction represented by the ruling Austrian Hapsburgs, and the imperial capital of Vienna. My thesis explores how different forms of mobility and circulation within both the shifting urban fabric of the city of Budapest, and the officially sanctioned spaces of its World's Fair, played a key role in re-defining Hungary's status under imperial rule. The four chapters of the dissertation which focus at their broadest level on the re-ordering of the spaces of the city, panorama spectacles, photography, and early cinema, thus consider the ways in which new modes of subjectivity, embodied vision and media forms, in dialogue with nationhood, gave form to a complex set of social and political tensions and debates at the time of the international exhibition.

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