New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities

Emerging Social, Legal and Governance Orders


The nine empirical studies in New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities, organized under the general framework of urban space, examine three critical dimensions of the great urban transformation in Republican China—social, legal and governance orders. Together these narratives suggest a new perception of this historical urbanism. While modern economic development was a major drive for Chinese urban transformation, this volume highlights the dimension of the multilayered forces that shape urban space by looking into that less quantifiable, but equally important cultural realm and by exposing the ways in which these forces created new urban narratives, which became themselves shapers of urban space and of our perception of the Republican urbanity.
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Biographical Note

Billy K. L. So (PhD, Australian National University, 1983) is Chair Professor of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He published extensively on Chinese legal and business history including Prosperity, Region, and Institutions in Maritime China (Harvard, 2000). Madeleine Zelin (PhD, University of California at Berkeley, 1979) is Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies at Columbia University. She has published extensively on Chinese economic and legal history, including The Merchants of Zigong, Industrial Entrepreneurship in Early Modern China (Columbia, 2005).

Review Quote

"The chapters reveal trends that complicate the quest to locate Habermasian public spaces in the volatile urban formations of a politically fragmented and conflict-ridden nation." Brian Tsui, The Australian National University, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 15.2 (December 2013)

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities as Seen Through Cultural Narratives: A Prologue      Billy K.L. So and Madeleine Zelin Part 1. Social Order Chapter 2 Changing Spaces and Civilized Weddings in Republican China      Antonia Finnane Chapter 3 City-building, the New Life Movement, and the "Making of the Citizen" in 1930s Nanchang      Federica Ferlanti Chapter 4 Wartime Refugee Relief in Chinese Cities and Women's Political Activism, 1937-1940      Harriet Zurndorfer Part 2. Law and Order Chapter 5 Unorganized Crime: Forgers, Soldiers, and Shopkeepers in Beijing, 1927, 1928      Brett Sheehan Chapter 6 The Ordering of Crime in Republican Beijing from the 1910s to the 1930s      Michael Hoi Kit Ng Chapter 7 Dangerous Cities: Judicial Authorities, Criminologists, and the Perception of Crime Zones in 1920s and 1930s China      Jan Kiely Part 3. Goverance Order Chapter 8 British Concessions and Chinese Cities, 1910-1930s      Robert Bickers Chapter 9 Provincializing the City: Canton and the Reshaping of Guangdong Provincial Administration, 1912-1937      John Fitzgerald Chapter 10 Xi'an, 1900-1940: From Isolated Backwater to Resistance Center      Pierre-Etienne Will


All those interested in the modern transformation of Chinese cities and their urban cultures, including new approaches to social life, law and crime, and urban governance.