Expo 2015 in Milan: the power of the Machine

Author: Daniela Danna (University of Milan, Italy)

  • Expo 2015 in Milan: the power of the Machine


    Expo 2015 in Milan: the power of the Machine



This article describes and analyzes the Expo 2015 in Milan, building on the work of Alf Hornborg on the 'Machine' to discusses material and ideological processes of this mega-project. Hornborg calls attention to the social inequalities enabling the employment of technology in production (not only in the capitalist worldeconomy) and to its cultural underpinnings, among them money fetishism. With mega-events, the geoculture of the capitalist world-economy extols 'growth' and 'development' and celebrates the interstate system, legitimating public expenditures with a media-hyped importance of the event. The cultural force of megaevents obtains social acceptance of the unequal exchanges at their material core. Under Expo 2015's slogan "Feeding the planet, energy for life", agricultural land was destroyed to build a cement platform the size of a small city in a space of unbounded capitalism where labor laws were suspended and fiscal advantages were granted to firms. The Italian state paid for the basic infrastructure, while foreign states (and the corporations present) provided for their own pavilions. Ideologically, Expo 2015 celebrated the capacity of states and the transnational companies to 'technological advances.' Technology was presented as an autonomous force in history, propagating a vision of humanity acting on nature through a 'purified' technology independent of social relations of production. The 'Milan Charter', the Expo's cultural legacy, produced and reproduced the hegemonic geoculture which presents technology as the solution to social problems.

Keywords: Expo 2015, mega-events, the Machine, human ecology, Alf Hornborg

How to Cite:

Danna, D., (2017) “Expo 2015 in Milan: the power of the Machine”, Journal of Political Ecology 24(1), 901-920. doi:

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Published on
27 Sep 2017
Peer Reviewed