Abstract

Abstract:

Late nineteenth-century Americans struggled to conceptualize global capitalism and their own position within it, negotiating the divide between abstract totality and what Fredric Jameson describes as "our particular path through the world." For Jameson and others, this negotiation entailed "overcoming" epistemic disjuncture in a quest for synthesis, a gradual process of mapping continuity with encompassing networks. This essay shows how different the project of global becoming appears from the perspectives of women who organized, wrote about, and exhibited in the Woman's and Colored Departments at the 1884 New Orleans World's Fair. Hailed as "the world's university," the Exposition provided a disciplinary apparatus for producing global subjects that women inhabited in self-conscious ways. Looking at Julia Ward Howe's ironic juxtaposition of Internationalist Womanhood with women's industrial works, Mary Ashley Townsend's aggressively sectionalist cosmopolitanism, and Sarah Shimm's (literally) embroidered history of Toussaint L'Ouverture, I argue these reveal an orientation to the disjuncture between global totality and subjective immediacy that is self-referential and playful. They re-frame the project of becoming global as a shared cultural problematic (rather than psychological impasse) and as self-production (rather than self-insertion), illuminating the gendered and racialized dynamics that mediate access to global identity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-7438
Print ISSN
2166-742X
Pages
pp. 11-41
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-08
Open Access
No
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