Classical Nudity and Eugenics at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE)

  • Mireille M. LeeEmail author

Throughout the history of the state of California, dreams of the future have been built upon visions of the classical past. Glimpses of the Greco-Roman world survive in place names (Arcadia, Ceres, Pomona) and in the classicizing architecture and monuments that befit the Mediterranean climate – especially in the southern part of the state.1 Such borrowings are generally benign, and many Californians are unaware of these classical references or their cultural implications. Yet, alongside the perpetual mythmaking that conjures the California Dream, the classical past has also been employed for nefarious purposes. This study traces the appropriation of classical imagery, in particular the classical nude, for the promotion of racist ideologies at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco, which was a seminal event for the eugenics movement in California and across the nation.2

Classical Imagery at the PPIE

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was...



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History of ArtVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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