The World Beyond

The World Beyond

The war had caused millions of men and women to enter the military service and see parts of the world they would likely never have seen otherwise. The labour demands of war industries caused millions more Americans to move--largely to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts where most defense plants were located. This accelerated their exposure to places in the world that a large number of Americans had never seen before, resulting in an increased interest in places outside the American borders. This interest culminated in innumerable advertisements for travelling abroad, and articles profiling different locations, in Holiday magazine.

The complicated geo-political relations between the US and different countries after the end of the war, and popular perceptions of different geo-political regions also influenced how a country or a culture was depicted in the magazine. The advertisements and features of places were instrumental in crafting 'master stories' about different places, that summed up and branded locations with easily digestible narratives and images. 

World Wide Weather for July

The expanded interest in the world beyond the American borders reflects in ephemera such as a "World-Wide Weather" chart published in the magazine. The chart shows that a growing section of the American public was not only interested in but actively associated with people outside the US. 

American President Lines Ad

After the end of the war, the US expressed a heightened interest in several Asian countries, and expanded its political, military, and economic presence in the region to an unprecedented degree. However, this expansion of power was neither a smooth one, nor did it have innocent motives. The US feared the USSR's influence on many of these  countries (several of which were politically unstable after having recently gained independence from colonial powers). The US attempted to actively counter the influence of the USSR through soft and hard techniques in the Cold War era. Magazine advertisements, such as this, issued by American President Lines, contributed to shaping American perceptions about Asian countries, flattening the diversity of the region into the category of the "orient". 

Skyway Luggage ad

Relationships with foreign countries and cultures began to reflect in travel advertisements in more insidious ways. In this advertisement, issued by Skyway Luggage, for instance, a vaguely foreign looking woman, who holds an "oriental" fan and stands against the backdrp of foreign architecture, is meant to symbolise international tourism. Thus, these international motifs, although decontextualised, had become omnipresent in the magazine and its ephemera. 

Holiday Magazine cover
Pan American World Airways Ad

This advertisement, issued by Pan American World Airways, is a good example of how travel ads branded locations with a simplified narratives and easily recognisable visuals, commodifying places and cultures to promote tourism. This ad brands each continent (or region) with a single animal, providing simplified, and distinct markers, drawing on and building associations for the public to remember places by.  

The World Beyond