Paris of the Orient

by on Thursday, 31 December 2009 9476 hits Comments
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As Shanghai World Fair is nearing, media and publishers are narrowing their focus on the capital of Southeast China – and rightly so: Shanghai has become one of the most powerful global cities, if not the most powerful. The accumulation of capital, headquarters, communication centers and technical know-how reminds one of post-war New York. If Shanghai has not achieved yet the cultural iconic status that New York reached during the fifties and sixties, it might well do so during the next decade or so. And it is at the core of a metropolis much larger than the ones of New York or Tokyo.

In thirty lively chapters, Bernard Brizay relates the formative period of the city: he draws a vivid portrait of the first French consul of Shanghai, Charles de Montigny, arrived there in 1848, founder of the French concession; he recalls the dark sides of the rise of the metropolis, drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling parlors or military repression… He depicts the foreign communities living in Shanghai during the twenties and thirties and some of their legendary figures. More important, by giving a clear and complete synthesis of the past of the “Paris of the Orient” he provides us with the keys for understanding the cosmopolitan and eminently adaptable nature of a leading metropolis of the new world economy.

(photo: J.J. Chen)

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:33
Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

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