The 2010 Shanghai World Expo lasted from May 1 through October 31, 2010, and represented a tremendous mobilization of capital, human resources, and urban restructuring. It was in every respect a massive spectacle, giving its 70-plus million attendees (overwhelmingly from the PRC) a vision of contemporary and future Chinese and global urbanism, as well as signifying to the world, as the Beijing Olympics had done, China's massive presence in the global arena. Ideologically, its thematics of material and architectural innovation, sustainability, harmoniousness, urban order, cultural heritage, and the ubiquitous and all-inclusive virtue of “civilization” (wenming) provided a comprehensive vision of a new, urban-centered, globalized China. The particular erasures, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the Shanghai Expo's vision of futurity, as well as the nature of expo attendees' varied experiences of the spectacle, provide important insights not only into the nature of the party-state's ideological project and the citizenry's experience of that project, but also into some wider questions about the fate of the future in our current period.

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