Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life

Hardcover | November 18, 2014

byJie Li

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In the dazzling global metropolis of Shanghai, what has it meant to call this city home? In this account-part microhistory, part memoir-Jie Li salvages intimate recollections by successive generations of inhabitants of two vibrant, culturally mixed Shanghai alleyways from the Republican, Maoist, and post-Mao eras. Exploring three dimensions of private life-territories, artifacts, and gossip-Li re-creates the sounds, smells, look, and feel of home over a tumultuous century.

First built by British and Japanese companies in 1915 and 1927, the two homes at the center of this narrative were located in an industrial part of the former "International Settlement." Before their recent demolition, they were nestled in Shanghai's labyrinthine alleyways, which housed more than half of the city's population from the Sino-Japanese War to the Cultural Revolution. Through interviews with her own family members as well as their neighbors, classmates, and co-workers, Li weaves a complex social tapestry reflecting the lived experiences of ordinary people struggling to absorb and adapt to major historical change. These voices include workers, intellectuals, Communists, Nationalists, foreigners, compradors, wives, concubines, and children who all fought for a foothold and haven in this city, witnessing spectacles so full of farce and pathos they could only be whispered as secret histories.

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In the dazzling global metropolis of Shanghai, what has it meant to call this city home? In this account-part microhistory, part memoir-Jie Li salvages intimate recollections by successive generations of inhabitants of two vibrant, culturally mixed Shanghai alleyways from the Republican, Maoist, and post-Mao eras. Exploring three dime...

Jie Li is assistant professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0 inPublished:November 18, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231167164

ISBN - 13:9780231167161

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of IllustrationsDramatis PersonaeIntroduction1. Foothold Foundations and Original Residents (1910s-1940s) After the Communist Revolution (1950s-1970s) A New Generation Comes of Age (1970s-1990s) Alleyway Homes as a Microhistorical Stage2. Haven Domestic Artifacts as Historical Witnesses Home Searches: The Cultural Revolution in the Alleyway Petty Urbanites: Reinventing Privacy in the Reform Era Thrift, Bricolage, and Nostalgia for the Alleyway3. Gossip A Cultural Genealogy of Shanghai Gossip Alleyway Space as a Milieu for Gossip Several Lifetimes to a Life: Women on the Margins A Room of Her Own: The Whispers of Aunt Duckweed4. Demolition Demolition Micropolitics Ruins of the Old Neighborhood Nail Houses and Rustless BoltsCodaNotesSelected BibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Shanghai Homes is a delightful book that is accessible and should be read by scholars from a variety of fields and a broader audience. At heart, it is a human story, both local and global, that concretely shows how life unfolds across generations, over time, and in the space of home and neighborhood, in sharp relief against a backdrop of great historical changes.