Cities of Jiangnan in Late Imperial China

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This book examines cities of the Jiangnan region of south-central China between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries, an area considered to be the model of a successfully developing regional economy. The six studies focus on the urban centers of Suzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Shanghai.

Emphasizing the regional focus, the authors explore the interconnections and sequential relationships between these major cities and analyze common themes such as the development of handicraft industry, transport and commerce, class structure, ethnic diversity and internal immigration, and the social and political pressures generated by developments in manufacturing, taxes, and government politics. The book provides a valuable resource on commercial development and internal economic and social development in pre-modern China, particularly on specific regional development and the historical role of traditional Chinese cities.
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About the author

Linda Cooke Johnson is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Michigan State University. She is the author of The Great Scheme for Commercial Intercourse: The Chinese, the British, and the Opening of Shanghai, and The Creation of a Pre-Colonial Port City: Shanghai 1730-1850.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
310
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ISBN
9781438407982
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In China today skyscrapers tower over ancient temples, freeways deliver lines of cars and tour buses to imperial palaces, cinema houses compete with old theaters featuring Peking Opera. The disparity evidenced in the contemporary Chinese cityscape can be traced to the early decades of the twentieth century, when government elites sought to transform cities into a new world that would be at once modern and distinctly Chinese. Remaking the Chinese City aims to capture the full diversity of recent Chinese urbanism by examining the modernist transformations of China's cities in the first half of the twentieth century.

Collecting in one place some of the most interesting and exciting new work on Chinese urban history, this volume presents thirteen essays discussing ten Chinese cities: the commercial and industrial center of Shanghai; the old capital, Beijing; the southern coastal city of Canton; the interior's Chengdu; the tourist city of Hangzhou; the utopian New Capital built in Manchuria during the Japanese occupation; the treaty port of Tianjin; the Nationalists' capital in Nanjing; and temporary wartime capitals of Wuhan and Chongqing.

Unlike past treatments of early twentieth-century China, which characterize the period as one of failure and decay, the contributors to this volume describe an exciting world in constant and fundamental change. During this time, the Chinese city was remade to accommodate parks and police, paved roads and public spaces. Rickshaws, trolleys, and buses allowed the growth of new downtowns. Department stores, theaters, newspapers, and modern advertising nourished a new urban identity. Sanitary regulations and traffic laws were enforced, and modern media and transport permitted unprecedented freedoms. Yet despite their fondness for things Western and modern, early urban planners envisioned cities that would lead the Chinese nation and preserve Chinese tradition. The very desire for modernity led to the construction of a visible and accessible national past and the imagining of a distinctive national future. In their investigation of the national capitals of the period, the essays show how cities were reshaped to represent and serve the nation. To promote tourism, traditions were invented and recycled for the pleasure and edification of new middle-class and foreign consumers of culture.

Abundantly illustrated with maps and photographs, Remaking the Chinese City presents the best and most current scholarship on modern Chinese cities. Its thoroughness and detailed scholarship will appeal to the specialist, while its clarity and scope will engage the general reader.

Contributors: Michael Tsin on Canton, Ruth Rogaski and Brett Sheehan on Tianjin, David Buck on Changchun, Kristin Stapleton on Chengdu, Liping Wang on Hangzhou, Madeleine Dong on Beijing, Charles Musgrove on Nanjing, Stephen MacKinnon on Wuhan, Lee MacIsaac on Chongqing, and Jeffrey Wasserstrom and David Strand with concluding essays.

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