Old Shanghai Revisited: Touring the Bund and the Shanghai History Museum with my NYU Shanghai History Class

Last Friday I took my Modern Chinese History students on their first field trip in Shanghai.  Originally I meant to start at the Astor House Hotel just north of the Garden Bridge.  Yet when we reached the Bund, I made a sudden change in plans and took them to the new Waldorf Astoria instead.  We ended up going on an unplanned tour of the Waldorf Astoria, Shanghai's newest elite hotel.  Guided by a young 20-year old Chinese hotel clerk, we toured the hotel, taking in the ballroom, library, several fancy restaurants, and the famous Long Bar.  Sometimes the best part of these field trips is what happens outside your plans.

Read More

Dartmouth in Beijing Presents: Preserving the Hutongs of Beijing

 Last fall, at the end of the Dartmouth in Beijing FSP program, my students delivered several outstanding presentations on the history and contemporary society of Beijing.  I am putting these online so that others may benefit from them.  The file size is a problem, since these are all nearly one-hour presentations, so I've compressed this one in mp4 form, hence the fairly low quality.  If anybody has an idea for doing it better, let me know.  This presentation is about the Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and what is and can be done to preserve them.

Frederic Wakeman, _Policing Shanghai_/ A Review

 Here's my next installment:  a review I wrote back in grad school (with slight revisions for this site) on what I consider to be one of the best studies of pre-Liberation Shanghai done by any scholar.  Fred Wakeman sadly passed away not long ago.  An homage, long overdue, to this outstanding historian and person is in the works.

Read More

On the True Meaning of Laowai

In my experience, the Mandarin word laowai, which literally means "old outsider," does not in fact mean foreigner in the strict sense.  A much more accurate translation for this term would be "Caucasian."  Japanese and Koreans are rarely if ever referred to in China as laowai, and neither are foreign-born Chinese.  Nor are people of African descent. 

Read More

A Short Walk on a Great Wall: David Spindler Strikes Again

 

Mark Schatzker, a travel journalist, has posted two blogs (April 4 and 5) on a hike on the Great Wall with David Spindler on his 80 Days blogsite for Conde Nast Traveler.  In the process, he also recounts some of the knowledge that David has accumulated over years of research on how the Ming Wall worked and whether or not it kept the Mongols at bay.

 IMG_6522.JPG

I also remind readers that I have a few blogs and photos of David and the Wall as well.  See my Great Wall journal.  I promise to add more soon.  We're also nearing completion of a documentary film featuring David hiking on and telling stories about the Great Wall.  If anybody is interested in learning more about this film, please write me at andrew.field@unsw.edu.au. 

On Translations of Popular Chinese Literature

I recently read a novel, written by the Chinese author Zhang Henshui, called _The Shanghai Express_.  The original title in Chinese is pinghu tongche 平滬通車.  The plot is fairly sentimental, and for that matter, implausible.  I won't give away the story, but suffice it to say that a wealthy Beiping banker (Beiping was the name used for Beijing after Nanjing became the national capital in 1927) falls for a beautiful young southern woman while traveling on a train from Beiping to Shanghai.  What made this such a great read was the author'seye for detail. 

Read More

Democracy in China?

Will China eventually become a democratic country?  How long would this take?  These are two questions often in the minds of Western journalists in China.  In a recent podcast interview with China Digital Times, New York Times journalist Howard French was asked what question he would most like to ask Hu Jintao if he was granted an interview.  He responded that he would ask him about China's democratic future. 

Read More

Sex and Shanghai

He's back.  The man who inspired a witchhunt last August for his controversial blogsite about shagging in Shanghai.  We know him as China Bounder.  If you believe his story, he is a British Caucasian in his 30s and a former (if not current) English teacher in Shanghai.  If you're somewhat more susceptible to rumors and innuendo, he is in fact a team of clever, mischievous blogsters making it up as they go along (or maybe even a team of monkeys relentlessly pounding on the keyboard?).  I for one don't believe that tripe for a minute.  In my humble, unenlightened opinion, this guy is real, and so are his stories. 

Read More