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