Undergraduate and graduate programmes offered by the University iuav of Venice:

Christian Henriot



Christian Henriot is Professor of Chinese history at the University of Lyon (Lyon 2). He is the author and editor of several books on modern Chinese history, includingProstitution and Sexuality in Shanghai. A Social History, 1849-1949 (Cambridge UP, 2001), In the Shadow of the Rising Sun. Shanghai under Japanese Occupation(Cambridge UP, 2004) and Visualizing China (Brill, 2013), and a digital platform on Shanghai history





Re-envisioning Shanghai: Urban DNA and the digital lens

What's in a name? Defining Shanghai is a challenge. Nowadays, the sheer evocation of the name generates among most people a set of images, clichs, and myths. All ‘global citieshave been creating around them a halo of representations. New York, London or Paris also triggers their own set of evolving images. What makes Shanghai distinct is the dual process of image-building and the extent to which myth overrides whatever reality ran through the veinswaterways, canals, long gone – of the city. The multiplicity of ‘tagsthat apply to Shanghai reflects this dual process in which both Chinese and foreigners engaged (and still do) to define ‘Shanghai’. Shanghai was, like New York, an immigrant city, yet one in which each major groupWesterners vs. Chinesecreated its own vision of the city. These parallel, sometimes competing, visions still infuse much of Shanghai’sidentitytoday, an identity gripped between a nostalgic view of the past and a futuristic vision of the present. From this perspective, this paper will seek to revisit the urban trajectory of Shanghai and to examine what modernity brought into play in the way the city transformed over 160 years. It will argue, albeit provocatively, that Shanghai is unique not just by its own myths, but in the way the metropolis of today is the product of a process based on erasing its roots, creating itself anew, and to some extent negating the past. To proceed with this exploration of Shanghai’s historical layers, this paper will enable magnifying digital lenses to probe into the elements embedded in the urban DNA of the city





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