Representations of post-industrial shang­hai: Industrial chronotopes in documentary photography

Joaquin Lopez Mugica, Thomas William Whyke

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This article explores how vernacular aesthetics have been re-appropriated from pictorial to modern documentary photography over the past century to bring about a modern collective imagination of the industrial disintegration in the Chinese urban milieu. With­in the scope of a discursive visual process, Jean Philippe Gauvrit (b. 1963) documents the departure of the industrial urban society in his photo-essay Shanghai in JP Gauvrit (2008). The paper claims that Gauvrit’s documentary photography can be understood as a visual critical discourse of several representational perspectives of time that render visible anachronistic and new social structures that come into being: Between utopias of the past and visions of the future in an alternative chronotopic ‘present’ cartography. Drawing on Bakhtin’s (1981) conception of chronotope, in this study the sublime industrial comes to be represented as an intelligible reconfiguration of linear and cyclical time. By linking that socio-economic reality of that time with a collective consciousness, documentary photography can serve as a chronotope that reveals both the tension and the assimilation relating to the historical myths that lie between the fall of an industrial mode of produc­tion and the birth of a post-industrial cultural city in an era of de-industrialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-387
Number of pages33
JournalAsian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2024


  • Chronotope
  • Documentary photography
  • Modernity
  • Post-modernity and socio-cultural semiotic representation
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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