Body, Society, and Nation tells the story of China’s unfolding modernity by exploring the changing ideas, practices, and systems related to health and body in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Shanghai. The pursuit of good health loomed large in Chinese political, social, and economic life. Yet, “good health” had a range of associations beyond individual well-being. It was also an integral part of Chinese nation-building, a goal of charitable activities, a notable outcome of Western medical science, a marker of modern civilization, and a commercial catchphrase. With the advent of Western powers, Chinese notions about personal hygiene and the body gradually expanded. This transformation was complicated by indigenous medical ideas, preexisting institutions and social groups, and local cultures and customs.This study explores the many ways that members of the various strata of Shanghai society experienced and understood multiple meanings of health and body within their everyday lives. Chieko Nakajima traces the institutions they established, the regulations they implemented, and the practices they brought to the city as part of efforts to promote health. In doing so, she explains how local practices and customs fashioned and constrained public health and, in turn, how hygienic modernity helped shape and develop local cultures and influenced people’s behavior.
By 1952 the Chinese Communist Party had suppressed all organized resistance to its regime and stood unopposed, or so it has been believed. Internal party documents—declassified just long enough for historian Paul Mariani to send copies out of China—disclose that one group deemed an enemy of the state held out after the others had fallen. A party report from Shanghai marked “top-secret” reveals a determined, often courageous resistance by the local Catholic Church. Drawing on centuries of experience in struggling with the Chinese authorities, the Church was proving a stubborn match for the party.Mariani tells the story of how Bishop (later Cardinal) Ignatius Kung Pinmei, the Jesuits, and the Catholic Youth resisted the regime’s punishing assault on the Shanghai Catholic community and refused to renounce the pope and the Church in Rome. Acting clandestinely, mirroring tactics used by the previously underground CCP, Shanghai’s Catholics persevered until 1955, when the party arrested Kung and 1,200 other leading Catholics. The imprisoned believers were later shocked to learn that the betrayal had come from within their own ranks.Though the CCP could not eradicate the Catholic Church in China, it succeeded in dividing it. Mariani’s secret history traces the origins of a deep split in the Chinese Catholic community, where relations between the “Patriotic” and underground churches remain strained even today.
This book explores the Daoist encounter with modernity through the activities of Chen Yingning (1880–1969), a famous lay Daoist master, and his group in early twentieth-century Shanghai. In contrast to the usual narrative of Daoist decay, with its focus on monastic decline, clerical corruption, and popular superstitions, this study tells a story of Daoist resilience, reinvigoration, and revival.Between the 1920s and 1940s, Chen led a group of urban lay followers in pursuing Daoist self-cultivation techniques as a way of ensuring health, promoting spirituality, forging cultural self-identity, building community, and strengthening the nation. In their efforts to renew and reform Daoism, Chen and his followers became deeply engaged with nationalism, science, the religious reform movements, the new urban print culture, and other forces of modernity.Since Chen and his fellow practitioners conceived of the Daoist self-cultivation tradition as a public resource, they also transformed it from an “esoteric” pursuit into a public practice, offering a modernizing society a means of managing the body and the mind and of forging a new cultural, spiritual, and religious identity.
From the Sino-Japanese War to the Communist Revolution, the onrushing narrative of modern China can drown out the stories of the people who lived it. Yet a remarkable cache of letters from one of China’s most prominent and influential families, the Lius of Shanghai, sheds new light on this tumultuous era. Sherman Cochran and Andrew Hsieh take us inside the Lius’ world to explore how the family laid the foundation for a business dynasty before the war and then confronted the challenges of war, civil unrest, and social upheaval.Cochran and Hsieh gained access to a rare collection containing a lifetime of letters exchanged by the patriarch, Liu Hongsheng, his wife, Ye Suzhen, and their twelve children. Their correspondence offers a fascinating look at how a powerful family navigated the treacherous politics of the period. They discuss sensitive issues—should the family collaborate with the Japanese occupiers? should it flee after the communist takeover?—as well as intimate domestic matters like marital infidelity. They also describe the agonies of wartime separation, protracted battles for control of the family firm, and the parents’ struggle to maintain authority in the face of swiftly changing values.Through it all, the distinctive voices of the Lius shine through. Cochran and Hsieh’s engaging prose reveals how each member of the family felt the ties that bound them together. More than simply a portrait of a memorable family, The Lius of Shanghai tells the saga of modern China from the inside out.
In the midst of China’s wild rush to modernize, a surprising note of reality arises: Shanghai, it seems, was once modern indeed, a pulsing center of commerce and art in the heart of the twentieth century. This book immerses us in the golden age of Shanghai urban culture, a modernity at once intrinsically Chinese and profoundly anomalous, blending new and indigenous ideas with those flooding into this “treaty port” from the Western world.A preeminent specialist in Chinese studies, Leo Ou-fan Lee gives us a rare wide-angle view of Shanghai culture in the making. He shows us the architecture and urban spaces in which the new commercial culture flourished, then guides us through the publishing and filmmaking industries that nurtured a whole generation of artists and established a bold new style in urban life known as modeng. In the work of six writers of the time, particularly Shi Zhecun, Mu Shiying, and Eileen Chang, Lee discloses the reflection of Shanghai’s urban landscape—foreign and familiar, oppressive and seductive, traditional and innovative. This work acquires a broader historical and cosmopolitan context with a look at the cultural links between Shanghai and Hong Kong, a virtual genealogy of Chinese modernity from the 1930s to the present day.
In the wake of Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, Sigmund Tobias and his parents fled their home in Germany and relocated to one of the few cities in the world that offered shelter without requiring a visa: the notorious pleasure capital, Shanghai. Seventeen thousand Jewish refugees flocked to Hongkew, a section of Shanghai ruled by the Japanese, and they created an active community that continued to exist through the end of the war.
Tobias's coming-of-age story unfolds within his descriptions of Jewish life in the exotic sanctuary of Shanghai. Depleted by disease and hunger, constantly struggling with primitive and crowded conditions, the refugees faced shortages of food, clothing, and medicine. Tobias also observes the underlife of Shanghai: the prostitution and black market profiteering, the brutal lives of the Chinese workers, the tensions between Chinese and Japanese during the war, and the paralyzing inflation and the approach of the communist "liberators" afterward.
Richly detailed, Strange Haven opens a little-documented chapter of the Holocaust and provides a fascinating glimpse of life for these foreigners in a foreign land. An epilogue describes the changes Tobias observed when he returned to Shanghai forty years later as a visiting professor.
A suicide scandal in Shanghai reveals the social fault lines of democratic visions in China’s troubled Republic in the early 1920s.On September 8, 1922, the body of Xi Shangzhen was found hanging in the Shanghai newspaper office where she worked. Although her death occurred outside of Chinese jurisdiction, her US-educated employer, Tang Jiezhi, was kidnapped by Chinese authorities and put on trial. In the unfolding scandal, novelists, filmmakers, suffragists, reformers, and even a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party seized upon the case as emblematic of deep social problems. Xi’s family claimed that Tang had pressured her to be his concubine; his conviction instead for financial fraud only stirred further controversy.The creation of a republic ten years earlier had inspired a vision of popular sovereignty and citizenship premised upon gender equality and legal reform. After the quick suppression of the first Chinese parliament, commercial circles took up the banner of democracy in their pursuit of wealth. But, Bryna Goodman shows, the suicide of an educated “new woman” exposed the emptiness of republican democracy after a flash of speculative finance gripped the city. In the shadow of economic crisis, Tang’s trial also exposed the frailty of legal mechanisms in a political landscape fragmented by warlords and enclaves of foreign colonial rule.The Suicide of Miss Xi opens a window onto how urban Chinese in the early twentieth century navigated China’s early passage through democratic populism, in an ill-fated moment of possibility between empire and party dictatorship. Xi Shangzhen became a symbol of the failures of the Chinese Republic as well as the broken promises of citizen’s rights, gender equality, and financial prosperity betokened by liberal democracy and capitalism.
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