In a previous entry on this website, I posted some maps of Shanghai’s leisure and entertainment quarters that I made while researching my doctoral dissertation on Shanghai’s Jazz Age dance industry in the 1920s-1940s. As usual, I posted the entry on Facebook, and I gave a shoutout to Christian Henriot, letting him know that he had been a big influence on my research in those days. He responded to let me know that he is now working on a HUGE mapping project, mapping out Shanghai’s entertainment world over a century of its development. This project came out of another project, which our colleague at East China Normal University, Professor Jiang Jin, was working on with a group of her students. Dr. Henriot describes how this project came about and what its implications might be in a talk he gave at Stanford University in 2018. A video of the talk is posted on his website ankeqiang.org.
In a nutshell, Dr. Jiang’s students transcribed advertisements of entertainment and performances published in four newspapers between the late 19th century and mid-20th century, including the Shenbao, China’s foremost newspaper in that era. Dr. Henriot has taken this info and with the aid of students he created a database and a set of maps to map out the entertainment world of Shanghai over a century of its development. It’s a fascinating project with great potential to enhance our understanding of the cultural and social history of our fair city.
Dr. Henriot also developed another website called virtualshanghai.net, which is a repository of thousands of digital images and maps of Shanghai as well as other information on the city’s history. He has also published numerous academic papers and books on the city’s history, with subjects ranging from the history of prostitution to governance, wartime refugees, and deaths in Shanghai. I know of no other historian of Shanghai writing in the English (and French) language, who is so prolific and who uses such a wealth of data culled in newspapers and archives to research and interpret the history of Shanghai.
I was so impressed by Dr. Henriot’s latest project that I shared the video of his talk yesterday in my class on Shanghai history. I hope we can get the chance to invite Dr. Henriot to come to Duke Kunshan University to deliver this talk in person next time he is in Shanghai!