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Jeffrey Wasserstrom Leverhulme Lecture - Hong Kong and Shanghai, 1839-2019

Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

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This illustrated talk will explore the complex ways in which the histories of Hong Kong and Shanghai have been entwined since the Opium War (1839-1842), which ended with a treaty that made one a British colony and the other a city divided into Chinese-run and foreign-run zones.

The speaker will draw on his visits to each metropolis since the mid-1980s, as well as on the research showcased in three of his books: Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: The View from Shanghai (1991); Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 (2009); and Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (2020). He will argue that we can learn a great deal about each city from placing them side by side. The movement of people and ideas between them has shaped both cities--places that have vied with one another at times for primacy in various economic and cultural domains and alternately played crucial roles as hubs of artistic experimentation and political activism. The talk will also suggest that the stories of Hong Kong and Shanghai have much to tell us about China's past, China's present and China's future prospects, and also about the way global cities around the world rise and fall.

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