chapter  2
18 Pages

‘New Shanghailanders’ or ‘New Shanghainese’: Western Expatriates’ Narratives of Emplacement in Shanghai

WithJames Farrer

As in the early twentieth century, Shanghai has again become a site for Western

settlement. This paper focuses on case studies of long-term Western settlers*those in the city more than five years*and how they situate themselves in the city through their ‘narratives of emplacement’ or stories of a personalised relationship to the city. Settler

stories reference both a postcolonial nostalgia for the lifestyles of the 1930s Shanghai-

landers, and a newer post-socialist model of cosmopolitan citizenship for mobile urban

elites, related to the state-sponsored ideal of the ‘New Shanghainese.’ Taken as a whole,

expatriate narratives of emplacement construct an idealised image of a culturally

cosmopolitan, locally integrated and economically successful immigrant entrepreneur.

Few settlers may actually live up to this ideal, but these narrative strategies allow settlers

to construct imagined links to a place and polity that substitute for more substantive

forms of urban citizenship, while excluding other categories of migrants.