China Beat Archive



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January 3, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright January 3, 2009. Used by permission.


I’m writing this in 2008, but when you read it, the calendar will tell you it is 2009. That wouldn’t ordinarily be particularly noteworthy, since many blogs, including this one, alternate between running things just as they are written and scheduling them to appear a few days hence. It just seemed relevant to mention because two pieces I’ve recently had go up online that are linked to and provide teasers for Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 deal with time and forward-looking issues.

One is the concluding segment of a two-parter on Shanghai and visions of the future. This installment focuses on sci-fi writings with ties to that city, with passing nods to a couple of films, a fantasy poster that imagines Shanghai hosting a World’s Fair in the 25th century, and the actual World’s Fair set to take place there in 2010. It has something to offer fans of Neal Stephensonand other cyberpunk authors. But it also, perhaps less expectedly for at least some but not all readers of this blog, spends some time talking about a story written by the late Qing and Republican era intellectual heavyweight Liang Qichao, which has been analyzed insightfully by John Fitzgerald in a fascinatingThesis 11 article.

My other recent online Global Shanghai-related publication with a futuristic dimension was one I did for the wonderfully varied History News Network site. Befitting an essay aimed more at historians and those interested in the past than China-focused readers per se, it explores the question of why someone belonging to the presumably backward-looking academic guild of which I am a member would include a date set in the future, 2010, in the title of a book.