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Shaping Modern Shanghai provides a new understanding of colonialism in China through a fresh examination of Shanghai's International Settlement. This was the site of key developments of the Republican period: economic growth, rising Chinese nationalism and Sino-Japanese conflict. Managed by the Shanghai Municipal Council (1854–1943), the International Settlement was beyond the control of the Chinese and foreign imperial governments. Jackson defines Shanghai's unique, hybrid form of colonial urban governance as transnational colonialism. The Council was both colonial in its structures and subject to colonial influence, especially from the British empire, yet autonomous in its activities and transnational in its personnel. This is the first in-depth study of how this unique body functioned on the local, national and international stages, revealing the Council's impact on the daily lives of the city's residents and its contribution to the conflicts of the period, with implications for the fields of modern Chinese and colonial history.


'Isabella Jackson has written a superb study of one of the most important cities in both Chinese history and British imperial history. Her meticulous study of the way that colonial and sovereign China interacted shows the complexity of the interaction between foreign and Chinese during the Republican era. This book is a major achievement.'

Rana Mitter - University of Oxford

'Isabella Jackson provides a richly detailed and fluidly written account of treaty-port era Shanghai via a close look at one of its most influential institutions. This alone makes Shaping Modern Shanghai a valuable book. The author also shines in providing an astute analytical framework for making sense of the distinctive sorts of colonial forces in play in this fascinating metropolis.'

Jeffrey Wasserstrom - University of California, Irvine

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