Tag Archives: Matthieu Duperrex

Shanghai nø city guide

Matthieu Duperrex & Claire Dutrait (eds) (2012), Shanghai Nø City Guide,  Urbain, Trop Urbain-la revue de villes. Plus d’information

This book, which is comprised of fifty different articles, aims to provide its readers with a clearer idea of the multiple aspects of the urban transformation that Shanghai has undergone over the last twenty years.  The book was published just before Shanghai World Expo was launched in 2010, and many articles mention this event.

The collection does not pretend to be academic. Contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and occupations, but many of them work in the art industry: the numerous illustrations reflect the artistic aspect of the book.  Many of the authors have told their own story about Shanghai in the form of a travel diary, and so the articles reflect their personal experience. By using the first person narrative mode, the narrator allows the reader to discover the city as he sees it.

This book comprises seven parts, which describe different approaches to the city, from the “myth of Shanghai” as seen through Western eyes to the possible future urban trends of the city. Because the authors come from different background, readers are given a global image of Shanghai.  They learn, for example, about the image of Shanghai in movies with a study of Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai, or about the Muslim minority in Shanghai. Most of the articles are easily accessible to the majority of readers, with the exception of a few requiring some basic knowledge of architecture and urban planning.

Only available in e-format, this book also offers an interactive experience of the city, with the inclusion of short movies and sounds of the city.  These extras increase the reader’s immersion into Shanghai. Although the book is simple to use, some features remain obscure at first sight, and it is questionable whether the different tables of contents organized by categories and article length were really necessary.

Although the diversity of the selected texts highlights the multiple aspects of Shanghai and reflects the contrasts of the city, the interest of the contributions unfortunately varies widely.  Some give us a very clear vision of the urban transformation of Shanghai and emerge the reader in this pulsing city; others can be too anecdotic, much too anecdotic.  The personal experiences of the authors are at times just too unsurprising.

This book can be recommended to readers interested in discovering the extraordinary city of Shanghai, and can serve as a first stepping stone to deeper reading about the city.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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