Exhibiting the Exotic at the Exhibition:Music and the Evolutionary Sociocultural Continuum at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

David Kendall: La Sierra University

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/


The World’s Fair had long been a showcase of the progress and enlightenment of the modern Western nation, justified partly through the popularization of the new field of sociology that provided a linear evolutionary model of human sociocultural development. This model was available for illustration in St. Louis in 1904 largely due to the American possession of the Philippines. The new colony boasted many ethnic groups at various levels of social and cultural development, allowing the Fair organizers to display both the range of the evolutionary sociocultural continuum and the benefits of American colonialism in one large 47-acre “habitat.” Another effective method through which the continuum was realized was popular music at the Fair, especially in the many military-style bands that performed there, including the Philippine Constabulary Band. Popular bands of the day “reached up” to the highest levels of art music culture, performing symphonic overtures and opera arias while also “reaching down,” appropriating and adapting the music of other cultures, internal and external to the United States. In this way, the Fair organizers established a Western-dominated social commentary on a grand scale.

KEYWORDS: World's Fair; sociocultural evolution; American
colonialism; the Philippine Reservation; musical appropriation

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By