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Abstract

During the era of New Imperialism, the French state had the daunting task of convincing the French public of the need to support and to sustain an overseas empire. Stemming from its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and hoping to regain its former global position, the French state set out to demonstrate the importance of maintaining an empire. Since the vast majority of the French people were apathetic towards colonial ventures, the French state used the 1889 Parisian Universal Exposition not only to educate the French about the economic benefits of the empire, but to entertain them simultaneously so that they would begin to accept the notion of an interconnected Greater France. This exposition contained a group of colonial exhibits in which indigenous colonial subjects, whom the expositions' organizers handpicked to come to France, showcased their daily lives and interacted with the visiting public. Visitors witnessed the daily routines of indigenous cultures and took away from the exhibits a greater understanding of those who lived in the colonies. However, the vast majority of the French public who visited the expositions did not experience a shift in their mindset and favored the continuance of a colonial empire. Until they could personally see an impact of the colonies onto their daily lives, the French public remained indifferent toward the French state's colonial ventures.

KEYWORDS: France; history; empire; colonialism; exposition; Greater France

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