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In the 1920s and 1930s, the port-cities of Southeast Asia were staging grounds for diverse groups of ordinary citizens to experiment with modernity, as a rising Japan and American capitalism challenged the predominance of European empires after the First World War. Both migrants and locals played a pivotal role in shaping civic culture. Moving away from a nationalist reading of the period, Su Lin Lewis explores layers of cross-cultural interaction in various spheres: the urban built environment, civic associations, print media, education, popular culture and the emergence of the modern woman. While the book focuses on Penang, Rangoon and Bangkok - three cities born amidst British expansion to the region - it explores connected experiences across Asia and in Asian intellectual enclaves in Europe. Cosmopolitan sensibilities were severely tested in the era of post-colonial nationalism, but are undergoing a resurgence in Southeast Asia's civil society and creative class today.Read more
- Highlights the role of the cosmopolitan port city in Asian modernity
- Focuses on the role of neglected communities, such as migrants and modern girls, whose stories are not often told
- Provides a reading of cosmopolitanism rooted in Asia rather than in Europe
Reviews & endorsements
'Lewis excels at shedding light on the globalization of middle-class urban life and habits. Since this was indeed a 'process' that accelerated after World War I, it makes perfect sense that the book as a whole concentrates on the 1920s and ‘30s.' Michael Goebel, Global Urban History (www.globalurbanhistory.com)
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- Date Published: July 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107108332
- length: 320 pages
- dimensions: 234 x 157 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.67kg
- contains: 21 b/w illus. 5 maps
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction: seeing through the city
1. Maritime commerce, old rivalries, and the birth of three cities
2. Asian port cities in a turbulent age
3. Cosmopolitan publics in divided societies
4. Newsprint, wires, and the reading public
5. Playgrounds, classrooms, and politics
6. Gramophones, cinema halls, and bobbed hair
Epilogue: cosmopolitan legacies
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