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Prostitution and Sexuality in Shanghai
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  • 13 b/w illus. 12 maps 36 tables
  • Page extent: 486 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.88 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.74/0951/132
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HQ250.S52 H4613 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Prostitution--China--Shanghai--History
    • Prostitutes--China--Shanghai--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521571654 | ISBN-10: 0521571650)

Shanghai's nightlife, from the mid-nineteenth century until the victory of the Communist Party in 1949, was dominated by the world of prostitution. Henriot portrays the Chinese sex trade, from the sophisticated life of the courtesan to the common life of street prostitution. He examines the extent to which these worlds were integral to Chinese social life, commercial trends, and Chinese mores and sexuality. Henriot draws a picture of a sector that was sensitive to economic and social change, and thus a good reflection of Shanghai's changing social structure, societal attitudes, and commercial development. This is the most comprehensive treatment available of a social phenomenon that has been much discussed in studies of Chinese culture, but largely neglected as a subject of serious historical concern. At the crossroads of social and intellectual history, this study gets beyond the curtain of exoticism for a realistic look at a vibrant sector of Shanghai's economic and cultural life.

• The most comprehensive social history of the subject of prostitution in Shanghai • Includes original analysis and heretofore inaccessible material from Chinese archives • Portrays in evocative detail a sector of Chinese society that reveals much about Chinese economic, social and cultural trends from 1842–1949


Introduction: prostitution and sexuality: a historiographical review; 1. The courtesans from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries: the end of a world; 2. Lives of splendor and wretchedness; 3. From the high class brothel to mass sexuality: the explosion of common prostitution from 1849 to 1949; 4. The ancillary forms of prostitution; 5. The prostitutes in the twentieth century: an essay in social anthropology; 6. Sex, suffering and violence; 7. The female market in Shanghai and China; 8. The houses of prostitution in the urban space; 9. The organization and management of the houses of prostitution; 10.The economy of sex; 11. Disease prevention and the policing of morality; 12. The abolitionist movement in Shanghai (1915–1925); 13. The Nationalists and regulationism Chinese style (1927–1949); 14. The institutions for the rescue of the prostitutes (1880–1949); Conclusion.


' … is a rich addition to the field'. The Times Higher Education Supplement

'… a brave attempt to illustrate the evolution of a complex phenomenon through the personal experience of prostitutes and clients alike.' Lars Peter Laamann, IHR Reviews in History

'Prostitution and Sexuality in Shanghai substantially adds to our understanding of the history of pre-1949 Chinese urban history, but also offers rich material for continuing comparative analysis of the history of the sex trade.' History

'Each chapter is carefully crafted and may stand by itself but, at the same time, also merges into a flowing narrative that gradually pieces together a colourful and complex mosaic where the many facets of prostitution are scrutinized … this is an outstanding research effort based on an impressive array of sources which constitutes a solidly constructed reference work for scholars as well as general readers.' School of Oriental & African Studies

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