East Asian Languages and Culture

David Phillips
Back to the Future or Forward to the Past?
Awarded $5,000 for the period 8/12/05 to 8/11/06
Source: Graham Foundation

Wake Forest University will host a 2-day conference for urban and cultural historians to discuss architectural and planning trends in Shanghai, arguably the most dramatically changed urban landscape in recent history. Even as it plunges into a comprehensive program of self-renewal, involving changed modes of production and the gargantuan task of reconstructing and expanding the urban fabric, Shanghai has also rediscovered its past. What is often elided in the new emphasis on preservation is its history of semi-colonial domination. Is history forgotten when an old structure becomes “historic”? What factors make this kind of collective amnesia possible? Is preservation an expression of confidence or an act of uncritical nostalgia? The conference seeks to answer these questions, exploring the process of urban reintegration and where the city is headed.