chapter  7
Historical memory, community-building and place-making in neighborhood Shanghai: Tianshu Pan
Pages 15

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, urban China witnessed the birth and growth of an industry of nostalgia in the realm of popular culture. A shared history of Maoist China dominated by successive political movements provided a space for the construction of a culture of nostalgia. Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city, was affected by a similar culture of nostalgia. Shanghai nostalgia, however, was not for its recent revolutionary past (such as “Mao nostalgia” in other parts of China), but for its colonial heritage. Moreover, Shanghai’s nostalgia has been actively promoted by the city’s social and economic elites as well as government officials who assumed a pivotal role in the ongoing privatization, stratification and liberalization in many spheres of everyday urban life. This is rather striking because until very recently, Shanghai’s colonial past, as represented in the official text-books, was nothing but a “century of humiliation,” beginning with China’s defeat in the Opium War (1840-1842).