Understanding Canton: Rethinking Popular Culture In The Republican Period

Hardcover | August 25, 2005

byVirgil Ho

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By studying six different aspects of culture in Canton in the period between the two World Wars, this book helps broaden our limited knowledge of the social and cultural lives of the common people in this largest city of South China. The author examines how the Cantonese in this periodindulged in their imagined cultural superiority as "modern" citizens, ushering in a cult of the modern city. During this period, Cantonese opera was also emerging and evolving into a widely accepted form of commercialised mass entertainment. The process of social and cultural change and its impacton the development of this city and its people are revealed throughout the book. This book also aims to redress some major misconceptions of the socio-cultural realities as seen in official rhetoric or academic discourse on the matters of patriotism and anti-foreignism, gambling, prostitution, and opium consumption. Contemporary non-official and folk materials reveal that thecommon people were much more pro-Western than xenophobic in attitude, and the alleged social and political "calamities" of gambling, opium consumption and prostitution were more rhetorical than real. Understanding Canton provides us with, not only a fuller and more comprehensive picture of city lifeand popular mentalities, but also an important clue to understand how and why the social history of this city was distorted and constructed in ways that suited the political ideology and nation-building agenda of the ruling regimes.

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By studying six different aspects of culture in Canton in the period between the two World Wars, this book helps broaden our limited knowledge of the social and cultural lives of the common people in this largest city of South China. The author examines how the Cantonese in this periodindulged in their imagined cultural superiority as ...

Dr. Ho was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology, University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, before joining the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where he now teaches modern Chinese history.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:528 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.41 inPublished:August 25, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199282714

ISBN - 13:9780199282715

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. City Versus Countryside: The Growth of an Urban Identity and its Meanings in Canton2. The Limits of Hatred: Popular Attitudes Towards the West in Republican Canton3. The "Problems" of Opium Smoking in Canton4. Gambling in Canton in the 1920s and the 1930s5. The Worlds of Prostitution in the Early Republic6. Cantonese Opera as a Mirror of SocietyConclusionsGlossary