Double consciousness of Chinese modernity: in the cosmopolitan ruins of Shanghai

Joaquin Lopez-Mugica, Thomas William Whyke

    Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper examines the inextricable relationship between the uncanny effects of knocking down Shanghai’s central district and their traumatic post-colonial implications. The value of the Chinese ruin, with its apocalyptic and contemporary imagery, begs to be discussed from a western perspective of ruin admiration as a metaphor for decadence and melancholy. This points to a new consciousness of globalization as means of conceptualizing well-established post-colonial orders at the heart of the urban deterioration of cityscapes. As a potential concept to spark a dialogue of cosmopolitanism between China and the west, urban ruins can be analyzed as a transnational, creative ethos that reimagines the Chinese city as never before. Taking the work of the Canadian photographer Greg Girard (born 1955), this article examines how his photograph book presents a cosmopolitan image of Shanghai’s derelict ‘community lanes’ (longtang or lilong) built in the city’s International Concessions (1842–1949), in which the past, present, and future are interwoven and redeemed. The authors argue that his ruin photography not only retriggers material knowledge of the city but also repurposes transcultural and creative expressions of mutually spectral moments of destruction and production between the east and the west, in which a myriad of potential features are discovered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411-435
    JournalFudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
    Issue number3
    Early online date8 Jun 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2022


    • Post-colonial spaces
    • Material ruins
    • Hospitality
    • Cosmopolitanism
    • Hauntology


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