As china's leading “treaty port” city, Shanghai has long been stereotyped as the prime bridgehead for foreign encroachment on China and as the most westernized city of the country (Tang and Shen 1989: introduction). Recent scholarship in the West still refers to Shanghai as “the other China,” “in China but not of it,” “a foreign city even in its own country” (Bergere 1981; Murphey 1992:346; Clifford 1991:9). In the first half of the twentieth century, was the influence of the West in Shanghai so strong that the city was alienated from the rest of China? Was Shanghai firmly in the grip of modernization, which in China was often associated with a tendency to change toward things Western? Or, alternatively, was Shanghai home to a strong and vibrant current of traditionalism, a traditionalism that can be equated with continuity or persistence of things indigenously Chinese? The answers to these questions can be very diverse, depending in large measure on the dimensions one chooses to examine. Most of our assumptions and judgments on this issue have been drawn from broad and sweeping political or economic perspectives with little attention paid to the everyday lives of ordinary people. How the common people continued to live their everyday lives is, I believe, most relevant to the question of the impact of modernity (or of the West) upon urban China.

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