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Royal Agricultural Society

The evolution of the RAS (Royal Agricultural Society) fits into the wider Western trend of promoting nationalism, progress and technology through exhibitory venues, which first became popular in the 1850s. Various types of fairs, from local agricultural shows to Worlds Fairs, were used as instruments of hegemony to support imperialism, to promote burgeoning capitalist endeavors, and to shape class identities, social spaces and public spaces Visual culture and the art of display became essential in defining aspects of national distinction. Colonial nations in particular, such as Canada and Australia, were attempting to develop distinct national identities to differentiate themselves from British imperial power. Agricultural fairs in North America originated at the beginning of the nineteenth century and were devoted to educating practicing framers in ways of improving their cultivation of livestock and crops through the use of various technologies. Symbolically, this cultivation was linked to the colonial project of civilizing wilderness frontiers. By the mid-twentieth century, advertisement in various forms was common and included programs or brochures, which were handed out to fair-goers as they entered. These were seen as opportunities for educating the public. Often comments promoting the importance of the fair were based on ideas about patriotism and nationalism. The Royal Easter Show is a good example of an exhibitory context which grew from a small fair, based on local agricultural competition, to a larger venue that incorporated the mandates of national development and the cultivation of colonial character. In 1822, the RAS was created on the premise that was a dire need in Australia for the development of improved farming skills to better support growing urban populations and export markets. Organizations based on agricultural improvement, which were popular in Britain, provided camaraderie as well as political and financial support for their members. Once transferred to the colonies, in this case Australia, they played an integral part in converting and organizing land for colonial purposes.

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